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Sakic announces his retirement

by John Kreiser
After 20 NHL seasons, Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic has hung up his skates.

Sakic, who turned 40 on Tuesday, has played his entire career with the Avalanche franchise since being drafted by the Quebec Nordiques with the 15th pick in the 1987 Entry Draft. He has served as captain since 1992 and has hoisted two Stanley Cups since the franchise moved to Colorado in 1995. In 1,378 games, Sakic has 625 goals and 1,016 assists for 1,641 points, leaving him eighth on the NHL's all-time point list.

He has played in 13 NHL All-Star Games and was named tournament MVP for Canada's gold medal winning team at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. The 2010 Games will be played in Vancouver, not far from his hometown of Burnaby, B.C., -- and last week, Sakic received an invitation to Team Canada's tryout camp.

The Avalanche were unsure last summer if Sakic was going to continue his career or retire. He announced in late August that he had signed a one-year contract -- but played in only 15 games during the 2008-09 season, due to injuries. Sakic finished with 2 goals and 10 assists for 12 points.

Sakic's last appearance came on Nov. 28, 2008, when he skated for one shift of a 2-1 loss to Phoenix. His last goal was on Oct. 25 in a 4-1 win over Edmonton. After that game, he strained his back in the team weight room, missing a month before his brief appearance against the Coyotes. He was still sidelined with the back injury in early December when he broke three fingers attempting to clear snow from a mechanical snow blower at his home.

As the season came to a close, he remained non-committal about retirement, other than to say the decision would be made more quickly.

"This is what you've done you're whole life. Since I was six years old I've played hockey," Sakic said after the regular season. "I think when you get to that point, you have to decide first and foremost if you can do it at the level you want to play at, and secondly if you're willing to do what it takes off the ice to get that accomplished."

Sakic's best season statistically was 1995-96, when the Avs won the Cup in their first season after moving from Quebec. He scored 51 goals and had 69 assists for 120 points through a full 82-game season. His next-best season was when the Avs won their second Cup in 2000-01 -- he scored 54 goals and 64 assists for 118 points.

Since then, his best season came in 2006-07 campaign, when he scored 36 goals and had 64 assists for 100 points.

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