Sunday, December 27, 2009
On this date in 1999, Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche scored his 1,oooth career point with an assist in a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues in Colorado.
Sakic was originally drafted by the Avalanche franchise when they were still the Quebec Nordiques 15th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.
A little known fact is that Sakic's parents were Croatian immigrants and he grew up speaking Croatian before attending elementary school. He would be named Rookie of the Year in the Western Hockey League of Canadian Juniors in 1987 after scoring 133 points. He also survived a horrific bus crash involving his club, the Swift Current Broncos, in which four of his teammates were killed. The following year Sakic was named WHL Most Valuable Player and Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year after scoring 160 points.
He scored an assist on his NHL debut on October 6, 1988 versus the Hartford Whalers and originally wore sweater #88 because Alain Cote was wearing his preferred #19. He finished with 62 points in 70 games although the Nordiques finished in last place overall in the NHL, which allowed the to select Swede Mats Sundin first overall.
With Cote now retired, Sakic claimed his #19 for 1989-90 and scored 102 points but the Nordiques sank to the depths of the NHL, finishing a distant last in points, 33 points behind the second worst club, with Owen Nolan being the prize that awaited them at the 1990 draft.
1990-91 saw Sakic score 109 points, sixth overall in the league, and be named co-captain of the Nordiques (for home games). Yet another last place finish by the Nordiques, this time by 11 points, put them in position to draft Eric Lindros, despite Lindros' adamant refusal to play for the Nordiques.
Sakic would miss 11 games in 1991-92, which would hurt him in his chances to repeat another 100 point season, and he would conclude the year with 94 points. The Nordiques managed to finish next to last in the standings. Unfortunately, they did not pass any clubs ahead of them from the season before, but "moved up" from last by finishing ahead of the expansion San Jose Sharks in their debut season. While first round draft pick Todd Warriner would never skate for Quebec, being involved in a later trade along with Sundin that would bring in Wendel Clark and Sylvain Lefebvre, the off-season trade of the holdout Lindros for a king's ransom would send the Nordiques on the path to competitiveness, as they would receive goaltender Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, Chris Simon, future star Peter Forsberg, a pair of first round draft picks in 1993 and 1994 along with a cool $15 million.
Now named full time team Captain of the newly reconfigured Nordiques, Sakic would respond in 1992-93 with 105 points and lead the Nordiques out of the wilderness and into the playoffs for the first time in his career on the heels of a staggering 52 point improvement, double their total of the year prior. Without any previous playoff experience, the Nordiques would be eliminated in the first round by arch-rivals the Montreal Canadiens. The process of building the Nordiques took another step forward by picking both goalie Jocelyn Thibault and Adam Deadmarsh in the first round of the draft.
1993-94 was a slight step back for Sakic, as he would fall short of the 100 point barrier with 92, but the Nordiques would take a large step back, dropping 28 points in the standings and miss the playoffs yet again.
The Nordiques final season of in Quebec saw Sakic finish fourth in scoring during the lockout shortened 1994-95 season and the Nordiques would capture the division title, only to be eliminated in six games by the New York Rangers, ending their time in Canada.
Relocated to Denver, the Colorado Avalanche took to the ice in the 1995-96 season hoping to continue the improvement shown during Sakic's seven seasons in Quebec. Little did anyone anticipate the events that would unfold that season.
After having a major falling out with the Montreal Canadiens, superstar goaltender Patrick Roy was traded to the Canadiens former arch-rivals, now located in Colorado, a trade which would have never, ever happened had the club remained in Quebec. In addition to receiving Roy, veteran Mike Keane would arrive in exchange for Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko, and the Avalanche were on their way.
Sakic topped 50 goals for the first time with 51, adding 69 assists for a career high 120 points for third in the league. The Avalanche would storm the playoffs, defeating first the Vancouver Canucks, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks by identical 4 games to 2 margins. Next up was a hard fought series with the Detroit Red Wings, upsetting the team that finished 27 points ahead of them in the standings 4-2 for the right to face the upstart Florida Panthers, whom they easily dismissed in four straight games for the the franchises first Stanley Cup Championship in their first season out of Quebec. Sakic would lead the playoffs in scoring that season and be named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.
It had been a long journey for Sakic, who, along with Curtis Leschyshyn, were the only two Nordiques players from the 1988-89 season to suffer through the years of last place finishes to eventually raise the Stanley Cup.
Sakic would eventually play 13 seasons in Colorado, scoring 100 points twice more in his career, eventually hitting the 1,000 point mark on this date in 1999. The Avalanche were regular fixtures in the playoffs, and contenders for the Stanley Cup for seven straight seasons, reaching the conference finals in six of those seven seasons, including winning the Stanley Cup again in 2001.
Today's featured jersey is a Starter 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche Joe Sakic jersey and features the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals patch. This jersey stands apart with it's "mountain range" striping on the waist and arms, unlike any other jersey of it's day. Combined with it's unique color palette, custom number font, memorable secondary shoulder logos and the club's success on the ice, this style Colorado Avalanche jersey is a true icon of it's era and only the change to the templated Reebok Edge jerseys killed off what would have likely been one of those jerseys that lived on unchanged for years.
The white names and numbers on this jersey have a textured herringbone pattern pattern to them, which is called "Glacier Twill". In addition to that detail, the silver outline around all the numbers is a metallic silver material, which is often done as a flat grey material on Avalanche jerseys. The lettering for the name is also tall and narrow, as shown by the shape of the "C", which is also often found as a nearly perfect circle shape with rounded, instead of flat sides like shown here.
Our featured video today are the Top 10 Joe Sakic Moments from his throughout his career.