That's right. I, a native Detroiter, emphatically thank Joe Sakic for all he has given me.
After 20 years as one of the best players in the history of the game, today we bid farewell to the career of one of hockey's best people, and an ambassador to the sport.
Not only does Sakic rank eighth all time in scoring, he was a class act through and through. I once heard a report about him donating to a charity under an alias because he was trying to avoid praise. He just wanted to do a good thing for the sake of doing a good thing. I'd really love for that story not to be true, but it probably is.
He captained my most hated rival team in sports as a child, leading the Avalanche to two Stanley Cups. The two years the Avs won the Cup were by no coincidence Sakic's best. He scored over 50 goals in each 1995-96 and 2000-01. The only times he's ever done so. As Joe Sakic went, so did the Colorado Avalanche.
Those Wings/Avs playoff matchups were the foundation of my fanhood. They catalyzed this young man's passion for the game of hockey with their fire and drama. I can vividly recall cursing Sakic's name as an 11-year-old boy sitting in the living room of our apartment on Ludlow Avenue in our quiet little suburban town, my eyes as red as my t-shirt's logo, as once again my Red Wings fell short in the postseason to some upstart team.
When the Red Wings and the Avalanche met in the playoffs, the conversations were of how much the two teams hated each other. It seems forgotten by each side just how great the other was, how much better they made one another. If not for Joe Sakic, none of the intensity that was the turn of the century NHL Playoffs would be possible.
It was Sakic's leadership and poise along with his skill that made Colorado so great. He was the mirror of Steve Yzerman, right down to so much as wearing the same number and letter. His career even ends on a similar dismal note: a thud.
Scoring just 15 goals and playing fewer than 60 games in his final two seasons combined, Sakic is yet another Hall of Fame player who held on too long—though, I can't blame him.
Much like when Steve Yzerman retired, I just don't want this to be true. I want Joe Sakic to play forever. I want to hate him forever, as I wanted to love Stevie Y forever. Well, maybe I still can.
Good bye, Super Joe, and once again, thank you.