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Hockey world celebrates Sakic's greatness

Thursday, 07.09.2009 / 12:49 PM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

By NHL.com Staff

Colorado's Joe Sakic made it a point throughout his 20-year career to rarely talk about himself. So, in honor of his retirement Thursday from the game as a player, NHL.com has compiled what teammates and opponents have to say about the legend from Burnaby, B.C.

Not surprisingly, the comments across the globe -- from teammates, as well as opponents -- were nothing but laudatory for Sakic, one of the classiest players to ever lace up a pair of skates in the history of the NHL.



"The National Hockey League celebrates the career of Joe Sakic, a consummate professional who led by example, led by achievement and led by his commitment to the highest standards of skill and sportsmanship. While the "C" on his jersey stood for captain, it also stood for courage, character, class, Canada and Colorado. We thank Joe for his many contributions and wish him and his family all the best in the future." -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

"He's won pretty much everything individually. He's scored a huge amount of goals and points. So many people have looked up to him, guys still playing in the League -- young guys, their favorite player is Joe Sakic. -- Calgary forward Jarome Iginla

"I think he's right at the top of the heap. Because when you're as good as he was for that long a period of time, that's amazing. "I can't even remember the growth part (of his career). I remember he was really good right away in Quebec." -- Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock

"He was just a great ambassador for the game. He's won just about everything there is to win. We have had similar paths, both coming to a different city with the same franchise. I feel lucky enough to have been able to play against him for so long." -- Dallas forward Mike Modano

"He caused me a lot of grief in my career. But of all the guys I played against, I had as much respect for Sakic as anyone, and probably more. But he was no fun to play against." Former Detroit goalie Mike Vernon

"He didn't need much time and space to get (his wrist shot) off. He always did everything just a little quicker than everyone else with the puck. He's a great guy and was great to play with. Not so much fun to play against." Goalie Ron Tugnutt, a teammate of Sakic's in Quebec.

"I think I'll remember Joe's fast hands and overall shiftiness. It always seemed like he was really slippery, always a step ahead of everybody with the puck. . . . You really had to be ready for anything with him, because everything happened so fast." Goalie Curtis Joseph.

"I owe him a lot. He really helped me when I came to Quebec, as a young European player a little nervous about what was ahead." -- former teammate Peter Forsberg.

"He's obviously one of the greatest players to play the game. Joe is a quality guy and a quiet leader, one of the great clutch players of all-time, both in the regular season and playoffs. I know if he's made this decision and decided to retire he didn't leave anything on the table. He's extremely dedicated to the game of hockey.

"He was never a very big player physically but he trained very hard on and off the ice. Very dedicated. One of the most dedicated players I played with. If you train for greatness and you have the talent, you'll be great." -- Former teammate Claude Lemieux.

"Joe Sakic played a key role in the two Stanley Cup conquests with Colorado and it was a privilege for me to play with him. He was not only a great player on the ice, but also a very good person to know off the ice. He was a player with great assets, but I have always been fascinated by the speed of his wrist shot. Congratulations on a great career Joe." -- Former teammate Patrick Roy

"I had a blast playing in Colorado with Joe Sakic as our captain. I don’t think I have played with anybody who has had a better season then he did the year we won the Stanley Cup. He was a true professional and an exceptional athlete, but what I will remember most about him is that he represents one of the classiest people I have been around in all my career." -- Former teammate Ray Bourque

"I always admired Joe's talent and determination as a player, and I was honored to be his teammate when we won a gold medal for Canada in the 2002 Olympics. In addition to his tremendous accomplishments on the ice, Joe also was a first-class person and leader. I want to congratulate him on an exceptional career." -- Pittsburgh Penguin owner and Hall of Fame player Mario Lemieux

"I was very fortunate to play with and against Joe throughout his amazing career. His humility and the class with which he always conducted himself I greatly admired. He was a great leader and competitor who always played his best hockey at the most important times. Joe possessed one of the quickest and most accurate wrist shots I have witnessed. I believe he retires as one of the greatest clutch players in the history on the NHL." -- Former Detroit captain Steve Yzerman

"Joe Sakic was a fun player to watch. It was special that he was on the power play with me in Quebec and then 20 years later, he was playing on the power play with my son Paul in Colorado. I'm very happy for Joe for all that he has accomplished during his career. He was a complete player and one of the greatest in history." -- Former teammate Peter Stastny

"Wayne Gretzky once talked about how good hockey players play where the puck is - and how great hockey players play where the puck will be. That was Joe Sakic. He was great and there will never be another player like him. Joe was clutch on the ice and a true ambassador off the ice. We wish Joe and his family the very best in the next phase of life." -- Denver mayor John Hickenlooper

"We celebrate the brilliant career of our captain, the face of our franchise for the past two decades. Joe's contributions have been invaluable and his achievements speak for themselves.  I find myself very much like a hockey fan, filled with a tremendous sense of satisfaction which comes from having had the opportunity to know him as a person, to have watched him play and simply appreciate him as a complete professional. He is the perfect example of outstanding integrity and with his tremendous sense of honor he led us to our success with his amazing consistency."  -- Colorado Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix.
   
"There's a book about Level 5 leaders and all the great ones have skill, but the last level that makes them special is humility. Joe had that. He wanted to make other people feel better. He didn't want to be the guy with the crown on his head." -- Edmonton Oilers coach Pat Quinn.

"Absolutely, he'll go down as one of the best to ever play the game." -- Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky.

"He came in and was a good player and he just kept getting better. I think he worked his way into being a better player, in how he trained, how he conditioned himself. The pride he took at being at the top level on a regular basis is what makes him a great player." -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.



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