CALGARY, AB. – The Western Hockey League and the WHL Alumni Association announced today the recipients of this year’s WHL Alumni Association Achievement Awards. In the professional hockey category the recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award is former Swift Current Bronco Joe Sakic while in the Academic Scholarship category the recipient is former Kelowna Rocket Gavin McLeod.
The WHL Alumni Achievement Award annually recognizes WHL graduates who pursued professional hockey and achieved a distinguished career in the NHL as well as an Alumnus who has obtained a post secondary education through the WHL Scholarship Program and has moved on to a highly successful business career. The recipients are selected annually by the WHL Alumni Association Executive Committee, which is headed by former WHL and NHL graduate Kelly Hrudey.
Professional Hockey Recipient – Joe Sakic Joe Sakic, a native of Burnaby, British Columbia, appeared in three games during the 1985-86 Western Hockey League season with the Lethbridge Broncos before joining the Club when it relocated to Swift Current, where he played two full seasons in 1986-87 and 1987-88. In those two seasons with the Broncos, Sakic accumulated 138 goals, 155 assists for 293 points in 139 games. During the 1987-88 WHL season, Sakic led all WHL scorers with 78 goals and 82 assists for 160 points in 64 games played.
Sakic was a first round selection (15th overall) by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Sakic went on to an NHL career that spanned 20 seasons and 1,378 games from 1988-2009. He played his entire NHL career with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche organization.
Sakic wore the ‘C’ as team captain for 16 consecutive seasons (17 seasons overall), making him the second-longest serving captain in NHL history. Sakic led the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup titles (1996, 2001) and captured the franchise’s first Hart Trophy as league MVP in 2001, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1996, earned the Lester B. Pearson Award (NHLPA MVP) and Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship) in 2001 and was named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team on three occasions (2001, 2002 and 2004).
Sakic, 40, retired in the summer of 2009 as the eighth-leading scorer in NHL history with 1,641 career points. He sits 14th all-time in goals (625) and 11th in assists (1,016). Only four players have ever recorded more points with a single franchise: Gordie Howe (1809) and Steve Yzerman (1755) with Detroit, Mario Lemieux with Pittsburgh (1723) and Wayne Gretzky with Edmonton (1669). Sakic ranks seventh all-time in both playoff goals (84) and playoff points (188-tied), and holds the NHL record with eight postseason overtime goals.
Academic Recipient – Gavin McLeod Gavin McLeod, originally from Delta, British Columbia, played his entire WHL career with the Kelowna Rockets from 1996-2001. During his five years in the WHL, the rugged defenceman appeared in 321 games, recording 15 goals, 93 points and 538 penalty minutes. Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 5th round of the 1998 NHL Entry, McLeod chose to utilize his five year WHL Scholarship earned while playing in the WHL, before pursuing any professional hockey opportunities.
Subsequently, McLeod went on to a five year hockey career with the University of Alberta Golden Bears from 2001-06, winning two national titles in 2005 and 2006. He played in 133 Canadian University games compiling 4 goals and 45 points. McLeod was named an Academic All-Canadian in 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05 and was named the recipient of the 2004-05 Dr. Randy Gregg Award as the Canadian University Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year.
In 2006 McLeod graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in accounting. Following University, he worked with Ernst & Young in Edmonton as an Articling Student, while successfully completed his Chartered Accounting designation. McLeod now works with Petrocom Construction in the Edmonton as their Director of Finance.
The WHL Alumni Association was formed in November 2007 to take an active role in assisting with the operation and promotion of the WHL at both the Club and League level. The WHL Alumni Association hopes to provide a medium through which past players, coaches, officials and management personnel can reconnect with former teammates and continue to make a contribution to the growth and development of the WHL.
The WHL Alumni Achievement Award recipients will be honoured at the 2010 WHL Awards Luncheon being held in Edmonton, Alberta on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010.