Former Avalanche captain Joe Sakic is in his seventh season as Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, his ninth year overall in the organization's front office. He was named to his current position on May 10, 2013.
Prior to assuming his present role, Sakic, 50, spent two years as the club's Executive Advisor/Alternate Governor, a position he was hired for on March 25, 2011.
The Avs have qualified for the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, the first time in 13 years that Colorado has made back-to-back trips to the postseason. The Avalanche defeated Calgary in five games during the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the club's first series win since 2008.
Sakic and his staff have assembled a core group that is headlined by Nathan MacKinnon, the 2018 Hart Trophy runner-up and only the second Avalanche player to ever record 90-plus points in back-to-back seasons. MacKinnon, along with linemates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, were the first Avalanche trio to be named to the NHL All-Star Game since 2003-04 and combined for the most points by a Colorado threesome since 2006-07.
The Avalanche's top defense pairing at the end of the 2019 playoffs featured a pair of 20-year-olds, Samuel Girard and Cale Makar. Girard, who was part of a three-team trade with Nashville and Ottawa in November 2017, was signed to a seven-year contract extension this past summer. Makar, the 2019 Hobey Baker Award winner, will be making his regular-season NHL debut this fall after a historic postseason debut in which he ended up leading all NHL rookie defensemen in scoring.
The 2018-19 Avalanche reached the playoffs thanks in large part to goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who led all netminders in wins and save percentage over the final three weeks of the regular season. Grubauer was acquired by the Avalanche at the 2018 NHL Draft and was immediately signed to a three-year contract.
One of the Avalanche's priorities this offseason was to add veteran depth while also continuing to build for the future. The Avs acquired Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky via trade and signed free agents Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Joonas Donskoi and Valeri Nichushkin. The organization selected eight players at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, which included five of the first 78 picks and two first rounders, Bowen Byram (fourth overall) and Alex Newhook (16th).
In July, the Avalanche announced a two-year contract extension for head coach Jared Bednar, locking him up through the 2021-22 season. Bednar, hired by Sakic in August 2016, was a finalist for the 2018 Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year.
The 2017-18 Avalanche, the NHL's youngest team, enjoyed one of the greatest turnaround seasons in NHL history, as Colorado's 47-point increase from 2016-17 equaled the fourth-highest, year-to-year improvement ever.
A month into that 2017-18 campaign, the Avalanche orchestrated a three-team trade that provided an immediate and long-term impact. Colorado acquired Girard, Vladislav Kamenev and a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft from the Nashville Predators, as well as Shane Bowers, Andrew Hammond, a first-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft (Byram) and a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft (Matthew Stienburg) from the Ottawa Senators. In addition to the first, second and third-round draft picks, the Avalanche added a former first rounder (Bowers) and two former second rounders (Girard, Kamenev).
Under Sakic's leadership, the Avalanche has continued to build through the draft, as the club's recent selections have included MacKinnon (No. 1 overall in 2013), Rantanen (No. 10 overall in 2015), Tyson Jost (No. 10 overall in 2016), Makar (No. 4 overall in 2017) and Byram (No. 4 overall in 2019).
In Sakic's first season of overseeing all hockey-related decisions, the Avalanche won the 2013-14 Central Division championship and tied a franchise record with 52 wins. Colorado took home three trophies at the 2014 NHL Awards, tying Boston for the most of any team.
Sakic announced his retirement from the game of hockey on July 9, 2009, following a career that spanned 20 seasons and 1,378 games with the same organization. He 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), which included the city of Denver's first major professional sports championship in 1996. The Burnaby, B.C., native 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 was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012, his first year of eligibility. The only player who spent his entire career with the Avalanche organization to achieve that honor, Sakic was officially inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 12, 2012. He was named one of "The 100 Greatest NHL Players" honoring 100 years of NHL hockey in 2017.
Sakic retired as the eighth-highest scorer in NHL history with 1,641 career points. He ranked seventh all-time in both playoff goals (84) and playoff points (188-tied), and still holds the NHL record with eight postseason overtime goals.
Selected by the Quebec Nordiques in the first round (15th overall) of the 1987 Entry Draft, Sakic is the franchise's all-time leader in nearly every statistical category. With Sakic as team captain, the Avalanche/Nordiques captured an NHL-record nine consecutive division championships from 1995 to 2003. In addition to its two Stanley Cup titles, the Avalanche also won two Presidents' Trophies and made six appearances in the Western Conference Finals during that time span.
Sakic's No. 19 jersey was retired by the Avalanche during a pre-game ceremony on Oct. 1, 2009.
Joe and his wife, Debbie, have three children: Mitchell and twins Chase and Kamryn. The Sakics are active with the Food Bank of the Rockies charity, and Joe hosts his own charity golf tournament to benefit the Food Bank every summer in Denver. Sakic was awarded the 2007 NHL Foundation Player Award in recognition of his commitment and service to charities in his community.