According to TSN.ca, the Colorado Avalanche have scheduled a press conference for Thursday afternoon at 1pm Denver time to, in all likelihood, announce the retirement of 20-year NHL veteran and inevitable Hall-of-Famer Joe Sakic. These sort of announcements aren't usually wrong.
By all accounts, I'm a fan of the Edmonton Oilers—for those who've read my pieces thus far, I think this is pretty well-established.
However, despite the fact that Sakic has been a member of the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche organization during his entire career—and, more importantly, has been one of the leaders of my team's divisional rival since 1995—you would naturally assume that, by association, I would not be a fan of the player.
Yet, Sakic, for me, transcends all the rivalries nonsense. He is, without question, my favourite player.
Why, you ask?
Sakic comes from a generation of talented leaders that I'm not certain we will ever see again in such a huge quantity at one time. Names like Gretzky, Lafontaine, Messier, Modano, Yzerman, etc. These were the guys you could count on to not only exhibit dedication to whatever team they represented, but to provide offensively in large quantities, and maintain the sort of classy demeanour that every hockey player should aspire to have.
On the ice, Sakic was always one of the most fun players to watch. I never got to play ice hockey growing up, but from those I know who did—and even when I went outside on a weekend afternoon with my friends for some street hockey—Sakic, more often that not, was the guy that those who played a more offensive role would try and model their shot after.
As much as I'm going to like the fact that the Oilers will now have one less problem to deal with when playing Colorado, this Thursday is going to suck just a little bit more now that one of the NHL's best—and, not to mention, of the league's nicest—is exiting stage right.
Thanks for everything, Burnaby Joe. See you in the Hall.