Joe Sakic always played the game with class, and with sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Fame skill. Yet just about every time I hear his name I think about the 1997 summer, when the Rangers kicked Mark Messier out the door and thought they would steal Little Joe from the Avalanche with a massive offer sheet.
With a week to decide whether to match, Colorado’s owners hemmed and hawed and wrung their hands … and then matched the offer. The Rangers’ Plan B was Pat LaFontaine, who was terrific as long as he remained upright, but who, predictably, ultimately had to retire due to repeated concussions.
And I always wonder if the course of Rangers history might have changed had they been able to get Sakic, to play with Gretzky and replace Messier, that year … which as you all know was the beginning of that long streak of non-playoff seasons, and this current streak in which they have won exactly two playoff series since that summer.
ANOTHER REMINDER: Laurel and I will do a live video chat tomorrow at 1 p.m. We encourage you to bring comments and questions. Access the chat by clicking here, or by going to this site: lohud.com/protalklive