Earlier today Joe Sakic was announced as one of the newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. This year was the first time Sakic was on able to be on the ballot since the rule change requiring three years between their last NHL season and when they are eligible for the HHoF (this can be waived under extreme "humanitarian circumstances") . He joins the other 249 male hockey players, two female hockey players, 100 builders and 15 on-ice officials with this distinctive honor. The fact that Joe made it into the Hall should be no surprise to anyone. From humble beginnings Joe was able to make a name for himself quickly.
Joe was born July 7, 1969 to Marijan and Slavica Sakic in Burnaby B.C., his parents were immigrants from Croatia. The Sakic's didn't speak English in the house and so Joe didn't learn English until he went to kindergarten. By the age of four Joe knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a hockey player. All it took was one game for him to fall in love with the sport and decide that he wanted to devote himself to becoming a hockey player.
Sakic was always a smaller player, and as such he focused on being a highly skilled player instead of a tough player. During the 1986 season, playing in the BCAHA league he amassed 156 points and 96 penalty minutes in only 80 games. The 1987 season was one of extreme highs and lows. He met Debbie, his future wife. While in the WHL as part of the Swift Current Broncos Joe had a total of 133 points in 72 games. He also experienced tragedy. December 30th, 1986 the team was on the road, heading to a game, when the bus hit a patch of black ice. Four of his teammates, Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff, lost their lives in the accident. This was followed shortly by another happy moment: Joe was drafted 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques. During the training camp for the 1988 season, Joe approached the Quebec Nordiques management and told them that he wanted to spend another year in the Juniors to be better prepared for the NHL. Quebec obliged. He went back to Swift Current and in 64 games he amassed 160 points. He tied for the WHL scoring title with Theo Fleury, and won the League's Most Valuable Player. He was also part of the winning team, representing Canada at the World Junior Championships. To top it all off he was named Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year. Staying one year longer in the Juniors did help Joe.
The fall of 1988 is when Joe Sakic made the jump to the NHL. October 6th against the Hartford Whalers Joe made his first appearance in NHL gear. During his first season he wore the number 88 on his Fleur-Des-Lys jersey. Due to an injured ankle, he made appearances in 70 games and had 62 points.
The 1990 season is when Sakic showed that he could excel playing at an elite level. He finished Top Ten on the scoring list, he had 102 points in 80 games. It also marked his first appearance out of 13 at the All Star game. Even with these astounding numbers Sakic wasn't enough to help the Nordiques out of the bottom of the league. This led to the Nordiques being able to draft Lindros. Sakic also changed numbers this year, he chose his previously preferred 19 instead. He kept this number throughout the remainder of his career. In the 1991 season the Nords kept being bad, but Sakic was able to improve with a total of 109 points, good enough for sixth in the league, in 80 games. This also marked the first time Sakic wore the "C" in the NHL, sharing the title with Seteven Finn. Sakic tried out for the World Championships in Finland. He was one of the first cuts because the trainers felt he didn't have enough leg strength. This spurred Sakic to change his workouts and increase his leg strength. The 1992 season Sakic got injured, in 69 games he had 94 points.
The 1993 season brought change to Sakic's hockey experience. He was the only Nordiques captain. He was able to make his first NHL playoff game. He finished the season with 105 points in 78 games. Joe also represented Canada at the World Championships and helped lead them to the gold. The 1994 season Sakic had 92 points. In the shortened 1995 season Sakic had 62 points in only 47 games.
The next year was another big one for Sakic. The Quebec Noridques were sold to an American who decided to move the team to Colorado. The team became the Colorado Avalanche. He finished the regular season with 120 points, and the team was heading to the playoffs. In the playoffs Sakic excelled. He finished the postseason with 34 points. He had the second-most playoff goals in history with 18- six of them game winners to set an NHL record- and scored twice in overtime.He was a driving force that led the Avalanche to win their first Stanley Cup in their first year of existence. It surprised no one when Super Joe won the Conn Smythe Trophy, he was such a force in the playoffs.
In 1997 Joe had a suffered a leg injury that caused him to miss a number of games. He played 65 games, but still managed to amass 74 points. The Avalanche won the President's Trophy and during the playoffs Sakic earned 25 points in 17 games. The offseason brought Joe a tough choice. He was offered a contract of $21 million over three years. Colorado had a week to match the offer, and luckily for fans, they matched it to keep their captain.
For the first time since his rookie season, Joe had more games played than points during the 1998 season. He played 64 games and had 63 points. He also represented Team Canada at the Olympics for the first time, and had three points in four games while there. Joe bounced back in 1999 and in 73 games had 96 points. During the 2000 season Joe showed, again, just how valuable he was. In 60 games he had 81 points. He earned his 1,000th point, and his 400th goal. The playoffs are were Super Joe was able to really make his mark, once again. The Avalanche went into the playoffs with a motto: Mission 16 W, earning the Cup for Raymond Bourque. In 21 games Joe had 26 points as the Avalanche did what they set out to do. When the Cup was handed to Joe for the pictures he held it at waist level, being careful not to raise the Cup. In a goosebumps causing move Joe handed the Cup to Ray so that he could be the first one to raise the Cup that year. Joe received a slew of awards in June 2001; Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, Hart Memorial Trophy and he tied Patrik Ellias for the Bud Light Plus/Minus Award.
In 2002 Joe played 82 games, had 79 points during the regular season. Although his NHL season wasn't his personal best, he achieved something else on ice. He brought the Olympic Gold medal to Canada for the first time in 52 years. In 2003 Joe missed a number of games do to injuries, but in 58 games he still managed to get 58 points. The next season, 2004, Joe rebounded from the injuries, playing in 81 games and earning 87 points. In 2006 Joe, once again, played in all 82 games and had 87 points. He passed the 1,400 points mark. Joe bettered these numbers in 2007 when he played in all 82 games and had a total of 100 points at the end of the season. He also netted his 600th goal. In 2008 Joe fought injuries again. He only played 44 games, and had 40 points. He earned his 1,000 assist. In his final year Joe injured his back, he was only able to play 15 games, and earned 12 points.
Super Joe's regualar season numbers are staggering: 1,378 games played, 625 goals, 1,016 assists, 1,641 points, 641 penalty minutes. During his career his playoff totals were: 172 games played, 84 goals, 104 assists, 188 points and 78 penalty minutes.
Joe will be honored during the Friday November 9th weekend and on the will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame during the Induction Celebration on Monday November 12th, 2012.