Courtesy: Taylor Rocca (Western Hockey League)
Former Western Hockey League star Joe Sakic is being recognized for his immense contributions and success on hockey’s international stage.
Tuesday, the International Ice Hockey Federation unveiled the 20th induction class for the IIHF Hall of Fame, featuring the former Swift Current Bronco and two-time WHL MVP.
Sakic, now 47, spent two seasons (1986-87 to 1987-88) in Speedy Creek and was one of the surviving members of the ill-fated bus crash that took the lives of four Broncos teammates on Dec. 30, 1986.
During the WHL’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Sakic was voted by fans as the No. 1 player in the league’s storied history. The product of Burnaby, B.C., skated in 139 career WHL regular season games, stacking up an impressive 293 points (138G-155A) along the way, adding another 25 points (11G-14A) in 14 career WHL post-season contests.
In his first season in the WHL, Sakic scored 133 points (60G-73A) in 72 games, which was good enough to not only be recognized as the WHL’s Rookie of the Year but as the first recipient of Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, named after his fallen teammates, for league MVP.
In 1987-88, Sakic picked up where he left off out on the prairies, notching 160 points (78G-82A) to finished tied atop the WHL scoring race with Theoren Fleury of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Not only did Sakic take home the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy once again, he was also named CHL Player of the Year for his performance.
On the NHL stage, ‘Burnaby Joe’ was selected by the Quebec Nordiques with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the 1987 NHL Draft. He went on to enjoy a 20-year career with the Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise, winning two Stanley Cup championships (1996 and 2001). During the 1996 Stanley Cup final, Sakic was presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup MVP. On 12 occasions, he was voted into the NHL All-Star Game.
During the 2000-01 NHL season, he brought home the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly conduct as well as the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and Ted Lindsay Award as NHL MVP voted upon by the NHL Players’ Association.
Upon retiring at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, the longtime captain of the Avalanche walked away having scored 1,641 points (625G-1,016A) in 1,378 career NHL regular season games. Over 172 NHL playoff outings, Sakic added another 188 points (84G-104A).
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 17, 2017
On the international stage, Sakic is a member of the esteemed ‘Triple Gold Club,’ having won the 1988 World Junior Championship, 1994 World Hockey Championship and a 2002 Olympic gold medal as a member of Team Canada.
At the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Sakic was recognized as the tournament’s most valuable player.
In recognition for his extensive accomplishments and contributions to the game of hockey, Sakic was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a member of its Class of 2012.
Today, Sakic serves as the executive vice-president of hockey operations and general manager for the Avalanche.
Through and through, Sakic was a winner from start to finish, having graced the Western Hockey League with his presence early in his career.
Sakic will be honoured alongside former players Saku Koivu (Finland), Uwe Krupp (Germany), Angela Ruggiero (United States) and Teemu Selanne (Finland) as well as builder Dieter Kalt (Austria).
The 20th induction class to the IIHF Hall of Fame will be recognized on May 21, 2017, in Cologne, Germany, on the final day of the 2017 IIHF World Championship.