Upon the retirement of not only one of the greats in Denver sports, but of one of the greats in hockey history, it is difficult to quantify the enormous impact made by Joe Sakic.
Many terms have been bandied about in attempts at describing how great number nineteen was at what he did, and all are appropriate. Leader. Scorer. Teacher. It is a true rarity to find a person who is not only excellent at what they do, but aware of how their skill and influence can positively effect the people around them. Joe Sakic embodies this ideal.
What I'll miss most about Joe is not necessarily his incredible reliability under pressure, but that his teams were always well prepared and fought hard. Many great and legendary hockey players have passed through Denver, but without a doubt the Avalanche would not have found the success they did without Sakic's leadership.
It is a testament to his success that discussions about his career have never seemed to revolve around his numbers (625 goals, 1016 assists, 1641 points), but about his influence and class. He was a complete hockey player in every way.
As he rides off into the sunset after a brilliant career which included two Stanley Cup championships and an Olympic gold medal and MVP, let's not forget what a treat it was to witness one of the great leaders and champions the NHL has ever seen.
Hockey in Colorado won't be the same without him.