Stoic Joe Sakic finally cracked, allowing for a rare show of emotion.
Delivering a speech that had kept him up most of the night fretting, the longtime Colorado Avalanche captain broke down, his voice betraying him as he stared into a room packed with family, friends and teammates -- even the governor of the state.
Sakic officially hung up his skates Thursday, ending his standout 20-year career. Try as he might, he simply couldn't get through his prepared speech without choking up.
"So many great memories," Sakic said, fighting back tears.
The pride of Burnaby, B.C., Sakic had hoped to play one more season, possibly culminating his career by suiting up for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
His body simply wouldn't allow it.
Sakic missed most of the 2008-09 season with an aching back that required surgery to repair a herniated disk. He tried to make his way back onto the ice before the end of the season, but couldn't.
That's when he suspected his career was finished.
"I didn't think I could be the player I wanted to be," said the 40-year-old Sakic, who has been the face of the franchise since the team moved to Denver in 1995. "I always said to myself that the minute I thought I'd slipped, and not be the player I wanted to be, it was time for me to go."
Sakic announced his retirement in the same room of a Denver hotel where John Elway did. Only fitting, since both were icons in the Mile High City.
"We can't put into words what he meant to this franchise and to our hockey fans," Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix said.
Sakic's No. 19 sweater will also be retired, getting raised to the Pepsi Centre rafters during a ceremony at the season opener, which is not yet scheduled.
It will be just the third in the 14-year history of the Avalanche, joining Patrick Roy (33) and Ray Bourque (77). The organization also retired four when they were the Quebec Nordiques.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Farewell Joe Sakic
According to TSN: