On June 26th, 2012 Joe Sakic was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sakic's induction was pretty much a slam dunk, and his resume and career accomplishments speak for themselves. He was no doubt a tremendous hockey player who was feared by opponents and respected by all.
I could go on and on about Super Joe. It was truly a privilege to watch him play growing up. In addition to being one of the greatest athletes to ever represent the city of Denver and state of Colorado, Sakic was—and still is—a class act. I have never heard anyone say anything negative about Joe Sakic as a person.
All too often, professional athletes (and celebrities in general) who are supposed to be role-models end up making poor choices like getting arrested, being selfish and greedy or saying something stupid to the media. Sakic was a true role model, on and off the ice; although, he never even aspired to be. All he wanted to do was to play hockey. Which he did. And very, very well at that!
Like I said, I could go on and on about all of Joe Sakic's wonderful career accomplishments on and off the ice. However, I will focus on just one. My single favorite Joe Sakic moment, as well as my personal favorite moment I have ever witnessed in sports, came on June 9th, 2001.
The Colorado Avalanche had valiantly battled back from a 3-2 series deficit against the very formidable New Jersey Devils and won game six in the Meadowlands and completed the series victory here in Denver in game seven.
Two of the greatest goalies to ever play the game battled in an epic duel with Patrick Roy besting Martin Brodeur. Joe Sakic, along with youngsters Chris Drury, Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay, had to compensate for the loss of star forward Peter Forsberg who had suffered a ruptured spleen after defeating the Los Angeles Kings in the second round.
And finally, the Avalanche defense, led by Rob Blake, Adam Foote and the legendary Ray Bourque powered the Avs to victory. During the 2001 Stanley Cup playoffs, Ray Bourque, arguably the greatest ever NHL defenseman, was unquestionably the talk of the hockey world.
The previous year, he had been traded to Colorado from Boston in hope of hoisting Lord Stanley's prize. The Avs fell to the Dallas Stars in 2000, but Bourque returned to Colorado to give it one last shot. Finally, after 22 NHL seasons, he and his team won the Cup.
Being the captain of the Colorado Avalanche, Joe Sakic was presented with the Stanley Cup immediately following the Avs' 3-1 game-seven victory by commissioner Gary Bettman. The NHL tradition is that the captain hoists the Cup and then passes it along to his teammates.
No one would have questioned or even expected Sakic not to. As captain, he had every right to hoist the Cup himself.
Instead however, he immediately handed the Cup over to Bourque in the single classiest, most selfless act I have ever witnessed in sports. That moment exemplifies Joe Sakic the hockey player and Joe Sakic the person. He is a winner and a champion, and a very humble, selfless one at that.
On November 12th, 2012, Joe Sakic will be forever enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada as he most certainly deserves to be. Yes, we here in Colorado and the hockey world very much like them apples!
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