Joe Sakic isn't exactly known for giving interviews. Even though he's been the Avs' Executive Advisor for 10 months now, it's rare that we hear anything from him. However, he joined Peter McNab and Mike Haynes on Altitude during the first part of the 2nd period of the game on Friday. I paraphrased what Super Joe said during in the GDT, but now that the GameCenterLive blackout is up, I thought I'd write down the full transcript for everyone who missed it.
After the jump, there are some real gems from the long-time face of the franchise, including some really nice words about O'Reilly and Landeskog, what seems to be a premonition of a goal and it's subsequent breakdown by a guy who knows how Stastny and Hejduk play first-hand, his day-to-day life on the job, Milan as the Captain, the importance of playoff experience for young players, and what he sees as the future of the franchise.
Mike Haynes: Well, with the Avs trailing by one, you can see here in the booth we've added one. We finally have a good looking guy going on here in the booth, eh Peter? (Gestures to Sakic) Bringing things up a notch.
Peter McNab: (Laughs) I was going to say... Improved us a lot.
Joe Sakic: I wish you would have warned me - I would have colored my hair.
Haynes: Joe Sakic, now Executive Advisor and Alternate Governor for the Colorado Avalanche, and he'll be joining us for the first part of the second period. We get to pepper him with some questions. Joe, first of all, it's just great to have you here and part of the Avalanche organization the front office. How has it gone so far as the Excutive Advisor for the Avalanche for first part of the season for you?
Sakic: You know, Mike, it's been great. I've really enjoyed it. Not as... busy... as I thought, which is good.
Haynes: Is that too loud, are you alright? (referring to the earphones that Sakic is wearing)
Sakic: Oh no, I'm fine.
Sakic: Oh no, it's been really nice. Going to the Board of Governer's meetings, done a few of those now, getting used to that... really getting the opportunity to sit down with Greg Sherman a lot, and, you know, getting a chance to meet the players once in a while and talk to the coaches, so I've really enjoyed getting back into the game and doing this side of the work.
Haynes: I have to ask you, you come to games like this, you're here all the time, you're very involved - do you have still that itch, just one shift, just to go down there and play once?
Sakic: (Chuckles) Not when I go down there and see the size of those guys. (Haynes laughs) But yet I tell you one thing...
Haynes: Well, we miss you. We wish we could see you one more time.
Sakic: Well, thanks. But when you're up here, there's no question - the game seems easier up here than it does when you're standing down there. But it's a lot of fun, getting up here. You really learn a lot about the players up here and being above the game, so it's been a lot of fun.
McNab: Do you find yourself looking at the game differently as opposed to when you were a player and now when you are actually assessing things and watching players to see, you know, what their skills are?
Sakic: Um, yeah, it's definitely different. You know, when you're down there, you're just focusing on playing and using your own game, really, and you get a feel for each game, but up here, yeah, you definitely... You know what's funny, up here, you can really see who the smart hockey players are. I mean, there's nowhere to hide when you're up here, and to see the little plays guys make, the guys that you know, that you don't think that they see and then they make those plays... you can really see the different hockey sense of different players from up here.
McNab: Speaking of hockey sense, here's something I just want to ask you... you saw Ryan O`Reilly, and now he's seems to be emerging into a different type of player, what with the offense and all of that stuff.... why? What have you seen that's turned him into, really an exciting, but very complete player?
Sakic: Oh, he's as complete as they come, that's for sure.
Sakic: But when you watch him the first couple of years, (Cue O'Reilly Highlights) I think when he came in a couple years ago, I don't think he expected to make the team. And he made the team by being so good defensively and being very reliable, and the coaches couldn't send him down because he was one of the more reliable players. So the first couple years, you know, he played that role. And then last year, with the injuries, he came in, he started scoring at the end, playing power play and showed everybody what sort of player he could be. And obviously he's such a hard worker that he really worked hard this summer and came in, and you see the payoff now for his work ethic and what he did.... and you can tell in the last year, when he got hot, he got the confidence and now right from the start of the year he knew could take it to another level and he has. He's been unbelievable, and Mike, like you said, both ends of the rink. He's got a great stick. He's one guy that you can see the hockey sense. He's got that - he's so smart out there.
Haynes: Get people up to speed - we are at early in the second period in the game between the Avalanche and the Hurricanes. Canes lead this one 2-1, and we are so, so thankful that Joe Sakic, who is the Executive Advisor and Alternate Governor of the Avalanche is joining us here during the first part of this period. (Cue Landeskog highlights) And this summer, you participated in helping with the Avalanche and the draft, and Gabriel Landeskog, he's turning out to be a pretty good pick, isn't he?
Sakic: Oh wow, he's something else. I tell you what - this is a kid who does not play like an 18-19 year old, and you'd think he'd been around for 5-6 years. So mature out there, he does everything well for his teammates and himself. I mean, he hits everything, the way he plays.... everything is a simple play and.... (gets distracted by EJ in the corner with the puck - which happens to be the play right before the goal is scored)
Haynes: And Joe, I know fans are saying, tell us where this team is going. Where is the team right now as you see it and what does the future look like for the Avs as they score the goal there!!!! (goal horn) That looked like a really nice play! Bang-bang-bang!
Sakic: And it's scored by Milan! Old man Milan! I don't know if you look at him and say future. (both laugh)
Haynes: But he was pretty good on that play.
Sakic: I tell you what, that was a great tick-tack-toe passing play with Jones, Paul, and Milan. Just a great rush and great play.
McNab: Now, Stastny, what's he thinking right there? Center iceman on that play. When that puck comes across, what's he looking at right here?
Sakic: Well, obviously it was a one touch, but he knew Milan was there, and I think that's one thing... They played together for so many years and he knew where he was going to be, and Paul, there was no look to shoot there....
McNab: Yeah, I was going to say...
Sakic: It was a for-sure pass. And boy, it was a great pass, a perfect pass.
McNab: Now when that puck is coming across, is that when Paul is making the decision that it was going to be pass not shot?
Sakic: Absolutely. And you know he's got that vision, and he see the game really well. And he thinks pass-first anyways, and that one you could just see, it just developed. He knew that the D-man was going to come to him and it was a wide open net for Milan. Great play. All around.
Haynes: Colorado Chevy scoring summary and you see the smile on Paul Stastny. Picks up the assist on Milan Hejduk 13th of the season at 3:15. Stastny and Jones getting the assists. And Joe, I want you to answer that question I was asking as the goal got scored, but before that, have you talked to Milan Hejduk about wearing the C, being the Captain? You were the captain for so long and you what it takes, what it like to be the Captain. Have you talked to Milan about the responsibilities?
Sakic: Yeah, we actually have talked. We got together for breakfast one day. You know, he the perfect guy for the Captaincy. He's happy...
McNab: Was he happy...
Sakic: Yeah. And you know what, well deserved, such a great guy and talk about a competitor, and a guy who does it the right way. He takes care of himself. He's a good leader. He has a lot of respect from everybody in the dressing room, he's just the perfect candidate... he's been great for the hockey club.
Haynes: And if you wouldn't mind just answering that question about where the team is as you see it right now, Joe, and where's it's future?
Sakic: Well, obviously we've got a lot of great young players and a mix of some pretty good veterans, and you know what, we're not there yet, but compared to last year, I mean, what a big difference it's been. Oh, sorry. (He got distracted by an awesome save by Jiggy)
McNab: We've got to get your good looks on camera here.
Sakic: ...and the club has definitely going in the right direction. The young players are getting more and more and more experience, and they're just doing a tremendous job. And you can just see how much more confident they are game in, game out. And it's like you said...
Haynes: You're saying to the fans the future's bright?
Sakic: Absolutely. You just watch these young players play, and you see that they're going to be great.
McNab: Joe, we talk so often about making the playoffs, and there's a whole bunch of reasons why, but how important is it for a young guy to get that playoff experience?
Sakic: Oh, it's, you know, not just the playoffs you want, but the playoff run as well, gettin' there, because.... Let's face it - the last 20 games in any regular season, it's playoff hockey, so to get into that run and get into the playoffs is a huge experience for the guys because it's a totally different game once you get there. Everything happens a lot quicker, it's so much more emotional out there, and to get that experience, to have some opportunities in games like that, it only helps the players. It actually, what it does, during the regular season, it kinda slows it down if you're used to that pace.
Haynes: Avalanche with a chance around the Carolina net, and they've come back here in the second period with a goal from Milan Hejduk and a beautiful set-up from Paul Stastny, making the score 2-2 . And we're so fortunate, Joe Sakic, who is now the Executive Advisor for the Avalanche, is joining us here during the first part of the second period. And Joe, what's your day-to-day life now in your job as Executive Advisor? What are you doing, what's your day like?
Sakic: It's great. I'll come to the rink... you know, I don't travel with the team, but when they're home I come to every game, every game that I possibly can, and I'll go visit Greg Sherman and Eric Lacroix and those guys in the office. Every once and a while, I'll come down to the practice rink and see the coaches, and you know, it's nice being part of that, and that's the best thing about being back. It's being here and getting that feel of competitive fire. Obviously not on the ice, but from up here.
Haynes: As a player, you have such a perspective on how the team should be run. Now that you're in the front office, how much has that changed? When you say, we've got to trade for this guy, we've got to make this move... you think differently, don'tcha now? Or do you?
Sakic: And you know what, it's so much easier when you're a player. (Haynes and McNab laugh) It's a little more difficult up here. But, you know, it's been great. Obviously nothing compares to being a player, but it's been fun, it's been a good learning experience for me and I've really enjoyed it.
Haynes: Van Der Guuuuuilk with a CHANCE.... and a save made by Ward.
McNab: Just getting back to the idea of Milan Hejduk, you know, I think a lot of it, the captain in hockey... It's the one sport where it seems to be really, really an important position. When you're talking about all the young guys.... What is... is there advice? Is it overstated how much a Captain will talk to a young guy, or is it just a feel for that individual player?
Sakic: Yeah, that's definitely a feel thing. Cuz you know what, every player's different and every individual. Some guys are more talkative and some guys are quieter. Some guys want to be talked to, and other guys, you want to leave them alone, the less said the better. So it's just a feel for each individual. But uh...
Haynes: Well, unfortunately, we have to take a break. Believe me, we could talk to you for all night about things. Hey, congratulates on the new position - we know that you're going to be great and we're looking forward to terrific things in the future. Thank you so much for spending time with us, Joe. You're the best, man. (Sakic and Haynes shake hands)
Sakic: Oh, thanks. Thanks Pete! I appreciate it.
(Length of interview by game clock: 6:29)