230px-Joe sakic

Wow! A croatian Canadian!

Joseph Steven "Joe" Sakic ( /ˈsækɨk/;[1] born July 7, 1969) is a former Canadian professional ice hockey player and current hockey executive. He played his entire National Hockey League career with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise. In his 20-year tenure, Sakic won the Stanley Cup twice, won numerous NHL trophies, and was voted into 13 NHL All-Star Games. Named captain of the team in 1992 (after serving as a co-captain in 1990–91), Sakic is regarded as one of most able team leaders in the league's history[2] and was able to motivate his team to play at a winning level.[3]

Over the course of his career, Sakic was one of the most productive forwards in the game, having twice scored 50 goals and earning at least 100 points in six different seasons. His wrist shot, considered one of the best in the NHL, was the source of much of his production as goalies around the league feared this shot.[4] At the conclusion of the 2008–09 NHL season, he was the eighth all-time points leader in the NHL, as well as 14th in all-time goals[5] and 11th in all-time assists.[6] During the 2002 Winter Olympics, Sakic helped lead Team Canada to its first ice hockey gold medal in 50 years, and was voted as the tournament's most valuable player.[3] He represented the team in six other international competitions, including the 1998 and 2006 Winter Olympics. After the 2000–01 NHL season, Sakic was named the MVP of the NHL by the hockey writers and his fellow players.[7] He retired from the NHL on July 9, 2009, and had his jersey number retired prior to Avalanche's 2009–10 season opener on October 1, 2009, at the Pepsi Center.[8] He is currently an executive advisor and alternate governor of the Avalanche.

Early life

Sakic was born in Burnaby to Marijan and Slavica Sakic[9] (originally Šakić, Croatian pronunciation: [ʃakitɕ][10]), immigrants from Croatia in what was then Yugoslavia.[11] Growing up in Burnaby, he did not learn to speak English well until kindergarten, having been raised with Croatian as his mother tongue.[11] At the age of four Sakic attended his first NHL game, a match between the Vancouver Canucks and Atlanta Flames; after watching the game, Sakic decided that he wanted to become a hockey player. As a smaller player, he was forced to use skill rather than size to excel, and modeled himself after his idol, Wayne Gretzky.[12] After showing exceptional promise as a young hockey player in Burnaby, Sakic was referenced as a new Wayne Gretzky in the making.[9] He scored 83 goals and 156 points in only 80 games for Burnaby, while attending school at Burnaby North Secondary [13] Soon after, he was added to the Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Hockey League for the last part of the 1985–86 season.[14]

During the 1986–87 WHL season, the Broncos relocated to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, becoming the Swift Current Broncos. Sakic, playing in his first full season, was named Rookie of the Year of the WHL.[15] He notched 60 goals and 73 assists for 133 points. But while Sakic enjoyed success on the ice, he and his team faced a tragedy on the night of December 30, 1986. The Broncos were driving to a game against the Regina Pats, and due to bad weather conditions, the bus crashed after the driver lost control on a patch of black ice outside of Swift Current. While Sakic was unharmed, four of his teammates (Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff) were killed. This incident had a lasting impact on the young Sakic,[12] who declined to talk about the crash throughout his career.[16] The next year, in 1987–88, Sakic was named the WHL Most Valuable Player and Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year. He scored 160 points (78 goals, 82 assists), tying him with Theoren Fleury of the Moose Jaw Warriors for the WHL scoring title.