Joe Sakic definitely had the numbers to get him in the Hockey Hall of Fame on the first ballot. The announcement was no surprise for a man in ninth place of all time for NHL points with 1641. He led the Colorado Avalanche to two Stanley Cups and Canada to an Olympic gold medal. He was the MVP for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL Regular Season, the NHL All Star Game and the Olympics. Yet to understand Joe Sakic’s contribution to the game, you have to look beyond the stat line.
Joe Sakic was a captain by example. For those of us who grew up in Denver, he was the type of role model that few are lucky enough to have. While to the media he was “Quoteless Joe” for the lack of depth in his answers to their questions, behind the scenes he was apparently the ultimate jokester. He lifted his teams up and pushed them when it matter most. Up until his last year he was a dominant force in the league and willed the Avalanche to the playoffs in years where the rest of the team was not pulling their weight.
Joe Sakic was the face of the Colorado Avalanche franchise. He is likely the third most recognizable athlete in Denver sports history behind John Elway and Todd Helton. His charity to the city has made him a staple and he is one of those rare athletes that are impossible to hate. Across the league, Joe Sakic was always respected, even during the great Colorado Avalanche-Detroit Red Wings Rivalry.
Joe Sakic rose to the occasion on the biggest stage. He holds the record for most overtime playoff goals with 8. Maurice Richard holds second place with six, and Richard has a whole trophy named after him for scoring. “Super Joe,” as he was affectionately known in Denver, is seventh all time in playoff points and goals. He finished with the most assists all time in the All Star Game; he played in 13 of them.
Joe Sakic will always be immortalized with the Stanley Cup. The image of him passing the Cup to Ray Bourque in 2001 will only become more famous with time, up there with Bobby Orr flying through the air to score. For those of those who followed Sakic’s career, the idea was not strange or out of character. Joe Sakic did not pass the chance to hoist the Stanley Cup as captain for the second time as a publicity stunt or to try and help his image. Sakic was that humble of a player, he was that confident in himself to share the credit. He was that happy for his teammate whose dream had finally been realized. For that reason, there may never be another player like Joe Sakic.
Joining Joe Sakic in the Hall of Fame Class are players Mats Sundin, Adam Oates, and Pavel Bure.