We’ll miss ya, Joe


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

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  1. Dr Fitznicentight on

    I was always a big fan of Sakic. What a great team the Avs had with him, Tanguay, & Forsberg.
    See ya at the chat tomorrow

  2. Amazing wrist shot, great player, classy individual

    Would’ve looked good in a Blueshirt

  3. Best wishes for the future Joe.

    I am still not so sure that Sather doesn’t have at least one more trick up his sleeve.

    I expect one more move to be made within the next few weeks, and it might be a blockbuster trade.

  4. Michabenjamin on

    I was away hiking that week in the Adironacks. Keep asking every person I ran into if they knew the status of Colorado matching. I never found out that week. Just keep getting mocked that I watched hockey.

    The likelihood of Colorado matching depended on the movie, Air Force One with Harrison Ford. The owner of the team had invested in that movie and needed a large profit to come up with money needed to pay Joe. It did well unfortunately.

  5. UESBlueshirt on

    I think the salary cap rules under the current CBA were structured with the Rangers offer sheet to Sakic in mind. No more front loading contracts. If I remember correctly it was a $21M/3 year deal with him making like $17M in his first year. Fedorov got a similar offer from Carolina that the Wings watched and then got a huge bonus when the Wings made the conference finals.

  6. When I think of Sakic, it makes me think of that Avalanche team and a young and much better Chris Drury. I wish he came out to play for us this year.

  7. UESBlueshirt on

    Yeah it helped when he could dissolve into background with Sakic, Forsberg, Hejduk and Blake commanding more attention from the other team’s D.

  8. I Was Duguay on

    Sakic is/was an all-time great and unfortunately there won’t be many more guys like him who have a HOF career with just one franchise. When Modano retires I don’t think they’ll be any superstars left who played their entire career in one place. Maybe the Sedins in another 10 years, but I can’t think of anyone else.

  9. Michabenjamin on

    I’m fairly certain it was Air Force One because I wanted to see it but didn’t because of it in my sixteen year old mind at the time. It was about the first year salary thing and if they would have enough to pay it.

    Rick, am I remembering correctly?

  10. BANJ, I forgot about the Rockefeller photo. Hilarious. Micha, I’ll have to check the archives if that was the blockbuster … it was definitely about a blockbuster, though.

  11. Repost regarding the Kovalev-Sakic incident:

    Actually, Wolanin did whack Kovalev in the back, rather hard. The kid might have been really hurt, but he shouldn’t have stayed down.

    The ref, Andy van Hellemond, kept looking back to see if Kovalev would get up, because he didn’t want the blow his whistle for fear that Kovalev was faking. He waited, and as Sakic scored, van Hellemond blew the whistle—perhaps even a second after Sakic scored. Then he said the play was dead and disallowed the goal. That pretty much cost van Hellemond his refereeing career.

    As for the notion that Kovalev is a playoff performer, well, that goes up and down like the rest of his career. He was a hero in ‘94, but how convenient to forget that he did nothing for the first five games against the Devils, and nothing in Game 7. Or some of his in-and-out playoffs with Pittsburgh and Montreal. He was dreadful every other game this past spring.

  12. Michabenjamin on

    Calling the Sedins superstars is the total opposite of the knight from Holy Grail having his arm cut off and calling it a flesh wound.

  13. bull dog line on

    while i will agree that Kovalev was quiet the first 5 games of the 94 Devils series, he was one the best Ranger in the finals(4 goals i think) and he was solid in game 7.

  14. i remember when The Rangers made a play for Joe Sakic years back and I was so pissed when an arbitrator ruled against us. I think that was the case , if anyone recalls how it went down please post it

    Class Act, Great Playmaker and scorer.

    Revisit Scott Gomez Salary Emancipation Day ! : Chris Higgins for Dummies video


  15. UESBlueshirt on

    Well Ovechkin signed a 13 year deal or some ridiculous but shorter than DiPietro length contract. Who knows if he’s still on Washington by then. I wouldn’t be surprised if he blows out a knee or shoulder at some point though. He throws his body around a lot and with his antics and celebrations someone is going to clock him at some point.

  16. Sakic played 11 more years from the time of the offer sheet, during which he scored 821 points. Rangers history would have been quite different had Colorado not matched.

  17. bull dog line on

    versteeg resigns with Hawks.
    no arbitrator involved with Sackic, Lanche matched offer sheet.

  18. UESBlueshirt on

    Not to diminish Sakic’s accomplishments, but that was also on a stacked Avs team. Of course he was a major component but do we trust that the Rangers front office would have surrounded him with the same level of talent that he had in Colorado?

  19. Jeff S. from Delaware on

    I’m actually surprised that Versteeg got less money than Barker.

  20. And I can see Toews staying in CHI, although I imagine Kane will move at some point in his career

  21. It will be a sad day. Sakic was so smooth a player, he played effortlessly and the aura of a special leader. He was fun to watch. Another of the old guarde hockey players is gone.

  22. Mouth, it was an offer sheet. Sakic was an RFA. Colorado chose to match the offer sheet.

    bulldog, he was very good in the finals, but to call him the best Ranger in the finals is inaccurate. Leetch was the best Ranger in the finals, followed by Richter.

  23. wow pronger signed for 7 years 34 mill?? Can someone explain the financial benefits to these loooooon contracts (Hossa included)? I realize that there’s a benefit to paying Hossa 5.5 rather than 8 because now they cans sign versteeg, but what happens when they eventually have to buy out the contract? Is there an escape hatch so that it doesn’t count against the cap?

  24. I Was Duguay on

    The point I was trying to make, was in 10 years, when you think of the Canucks you will think of the Sedins, just like when you think Avalanche, you think Sakic. I would like to think 10 years from now we’re still chatting about Hank, Dubie and Staalsie and what great Rangers they are, but that’s not the nature of the game anymore.

  25. Hey Carp and Everyone, Please check out my new blog:


    Today, I’ve got news on Derek Morris and a possible deal the Rangers may want to look into.

    Rangers Report will always be the best place for Rangers discussion but I’m just trying to do my part in keeping the Blueshirts fans informed.

    Thanks and Let’s Go Rangers!

  26. I don’t think that there is a single person who loves hockey and who doesn’t love Joe Sakic. He is my all time (none Ranger) favorite North American player. I will definitely miss watching him play. Have fun Joe spending time with your family.

    Now…as much as i hate to say this but… what about the fat kid from across the river? He is a “superstar” and has played his entire career (up to this point) for one franchise. Not really sure about his class act status but he is still playing for the team he started with.

  27. Maybe Sather can offer Sakic a 5 year 7.5 million dollar contract. This way he can finally play in broadway and be ready for the olympics. He played more games last year then Gabby!

  28. bull dog line on

    carp, did not say he was the best Ranger in the finals.
    said he was one of the best. of course Leetch and Richter were the best Rangers in that, and all series in 94.

  29. CCCP why do you have SuperStar in quotes? Will you admit Brodeur is better then Mike Richter was or are you such a homer you think that Richters one stanley cup means more then Brodeurs 3 Stanley cups, Olympic Gold Medal, and having the all time most Wins record?

  30. Joe Sakic is one of the greatest ever to play the game. There isn’t a Canadian hockey fan who doesn’t think the world of him. He was great for team Canada over the years.

  31. bull dog line on

    local fan,
    when comparing Richter and Brodeur, should we discount there head to head meetings in the playoffs? should we ignore the difference between playing in New York, and playing in New Jersey? I don’t think comparing them is as easy as you seem to think. It is a lot closer than you think. Richter was also a very good, if not great, international goalie. It took Brodeur a long time to considered the no 1 in Canada.

  32. I Was Duguay on

    I forgot about Marty, he’s definitely on the list.

    So with Sakic done we have:

    1) Mike Modano
    2) Marty “Two Sisters Are Better then One” “Fatso” Brodeur
    3) Nick Lidstrom
    4) Saku Koivu???????

    I’m at a loss….

  33. Koivu is not going back to Montreal. Gainey himself said so when he called and thanked him for everything he had given the franchise.

  34. Bull Dog..

    Richter was on the US team. If he was on the canadian team he wouldnt have even sniffed international play. I dont see your point. Marty had to wait for Roy.. So what?

  35. bull dog line on

    no problem carp,
    enjoying talking about those days.
    I remember reading your Ranger coverage in the 90’s, and how you liked Cambell as a coach.(I did not) so I like to bring it up once in a while.

  36. UESBlueshirt on

    Local Fan,

    Well I think it illustrates the point that while Marty has been very good and accumulated a lot of great stats and awards he’s not the consensus choice for best goalie of all time despite the wins record. Having a couple of Hall of Fame defensemen in front of you helps as well as a team that was built on a foundation of defense (which the Rangers never were during Richter’s era).

  37. bull dog line on

    I guess my point is that Brodeur was not even the best Goalie for his country. You just said yourself that he was not as good as Roy. While Richter was the no 1 for the USA. and that is part of there careers.

  38. A local fan

    This is a New York Rangers hockey blog… here fat Marty will always be a “superstar” in quotes.

  39. local fan you are such a hump it’s absurd..sniffed? i believe he stood on his head to beat the canucks in international play.. brodeur is an awful human being..end of story

  40. CCCP
    This is a New York Rangers hockey blog… here fat Marty will always be a “superstar” in quotes.


  41. Wow – Reports are that Detroit Lost Jiri Hudler to Moscow Dynamo of the KHL.

    i expect Zherdev to be right behind him.

  42. Doodie Machetto on

    I remember the offer sheet. If I remember correctly, Colorado came up with the money to pay Sakic by selling their TV rights to Fox or something. What a shame.

    Didn’t we take a run at Patrick Roy around that time too?

    Imagine if we had picked him up near the turn of the century instead of watching Richter blow out his knees and then get concussed. Dan Blackburn might still be playing today. We wouldn’t have had to endure Mike Dunham. Or Guy Hebert. Or Kirk McLean.

    We also would still have had Zidlicky.

  43. Doodie Machetto on

    Rob, it’s a negotiating tactic on the part of Hudler. He doesn’t want to go there. He just wants to squeeze a better deal out of Ken Holland

  44. UESBlueshirt on

    I’d be careful if I was Hudler, given Detroit’s ability to produce role players out of the dregs of the draft and how much they’ve spent on Zetterberg and Franzen, I think they’d be willing to let him go.

  45. I remember the countdown in the daily news- i was crushed when they matched for Sakic- the Rangers would have had their new captain for a decade!

  46. I lived in CO for six years (’98-’04) and had the pleasure of watching Sakic and Foresberg and those great Avs teams on a regular basis. Joe was a class act and just as good a guy off the ice as he was on the ice. Feels like we can say that about a lot of guys in hockey, which makes this such a great sport to follow.

    I’ll miss seeing him play. A surefire HOF’er.

  47. Greg_Section_403 on

    I remember sitting in my office at my first job out of college listening to WFAN’s coverage and thinking of how MSG were screwing a guy who brought them a Cup, while they through big $$$ at Patrick Ewing (Ewing got his BIG contract in the summer of ’97).

    Hey, I liked the big fella too, but he clearly didn’t deserve the cash that he was getting at the expense of Messier. then the Sakic saga came along, and I so prayed he became a Blueshirt…oh well.

    To think, that was 11 years ago and the Rangers have only won 2 playoff series since.

  48. Doodie Machetto on

    Some others to add to your list of superstars who are likely to retire with having played for only one team:

    Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Nash, Lecavalier, Alfredssen, Richards, and Doan.

    A couple of other high quality players:

    Franzen, Lehtinen (NHL career), and Turco.

    Notice that Dallas and Detroit seem to be the most prevalent at this?

  49. Matteauonov
    July 8th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
    This is a New York Rangers hockey blog… here fat Marty will always be a “superstar” in quotes.




    and i forgot to add… while fat Marty will always be a “superstar”… a local fan will always be a *SHMOK* w/o quotes!

  50. Doodie Machetto on

    UES, I think Holland will actually cave here since he already lost Hossa and Samuellsson. He needs to keep Hudler.

  51. I think Local Fan is Chico Resch. sorry chico, you are not going to much respect for Fatso’s stats and playoff appearances on a NEW YORK RANGER blog. Isnt there a NJD blog where you can ballwash with your other NJD buddies.

    Mike Richter in his prime (1993-1998) was the best goalie in the NHL. If you need any further proof, I suggest you watch his performance in the 1996 World Cup of hockey.

  52. Surprised Betts is still a FA, wonder if that Brashear hit on him did some damage? Can’t see why no team has touched him.

  53. Knowing how things always go when the Rangers sign a high priced FA, Sakic probably would have broken a leg or something, or gotten chronic concussions and would have ended up a bad investment :).


    As much as I loved Richter, he was NEVER the best goalie in the league. Top 5 yeah, but never the best. Roy, Joseph, Balfour, Hasek and I’m sure a few others were probably better over that time. What Richter had, was the abitlity to get hot at the right time, as he did in ’94 and in ’97 when our injuries cost us a shot at the finals. And yes, the ’96 World Cup. Heck, even Beezer for a couple of years in FL was as good as Richter.

  54. I was just thinking about this….and now believe that Drury will have a very good year for the NYR’s in 2009-10. My rationale is that with the addition of Gaborik, the team will have a bona fide game breaker on the team, which will alleviate the pressure put on Drury’s shoulders last year to be a top go to guy.

    Couple this with the maturing Callahan & Dubinsky, a hard working 20+ goal scoring Higgins, a pesky spark plug in Avery (who has skills), and potentially a new 4th line that may generate some goal production greater than last years 4th line.

    Then sprinkle the influence of Torts running a tight ship from Day 1 of this season….I forsee that Captain Drury will be a piece of the puzzle for greater success over what he had the past two years.

  55. I hope Sather got some tricks up his greasy sleeve. Unless he thinks that the team as it is right now is good enough!

  56. Doodie, a few more possibilities for stars spending a career with only one team:

    St. Louis, Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Ryan Miller, Daniel Alfredsson, maybe Kovalchuk, the Caps will probably want to hold on to either Semin or Backstrom if not both. This is a fun topic to think about though.

  57. Cindy Crawford on

    Boyle is a monster… If he comes into his own he could be good for us. a 27th pick overall and all we gave up was a 3rd rounder…

  58. Crawford, I was just thinkging the opposite, we gave up a dam 3rd rounder for a 4th line center????

    Anyone know what kind of contract he got?

  59. Cindy Crawford on

    The only thing I would argue with that is the fact that we have so many of his kind now.. He is just a big dude

  60. Cindy Crawford on

    And also you can tell this is shaping up to be a Tortorella type team…

  61. Does anyone see a possibility where Drury isnt the Captain anymore? Also, who are getting the A’s? I would think 1 is going to go to either Callahan/Dubinsky/Staal but who gets the other 1?

  62. Wow, koivu only signed for 1 year…i think i would have kicked the tires on that one-

  63. UESBlueshirt on

    Shane Doan to the list of same team for entire career players.

    And St. Louis played for the Flames before Tampa.

  64. I Was Duguay on

    Doodie and J Bone:

    Great additions to a list that I thought would be short.


    I love the optimism and as we all know summer is only time Rangers fans are optimistic.

  65. There just aren’t many players like Sakic anymore. The guy stuck with one team through the bad turning them into a champion. Of course, part of it was the whole Lindros saga with him getting rewarded to the Flyers for that ridiculous package that included Forsberg and Ricci.

    The Rangers offered Beezer, Kovalev, Weight, Amonte 3 No.1’s and 12 million. The age old question is had they gotten him, would they have won a Cup/been better? Teaming Lindros with Mess would’ve been something. They still would’ve had Leetch, Zubov, Graves, Turcotte, Gartner, Beuke and Patrick. Marchant would be dealt for MacT for the Cup. Would that still have happened? And Weight was moved for Tikk. It’s hard to say how the team would’ve looked/performed.

    All I know is in writing a piece on Sakic yesterday, his one quote on Lindros stood out because he didn’t want players that didn’t want to be there. Once the situation was resolved, the Nordiques started winning. Then of course lost to us in the first round before relocating to Colorado. The rest is history.

    Joe did have great talent around him but also performed posting 18 goals and 34 points to win the Conn Smythe incl. 6 game-winners. He was just awesome. And even without Forsberg, who was lost the final 2 rounds, there was Sakic leading the Avs past a great Devils team looking to repeat. How many players got the better of Stevens? Of course, Mess did in his heyday. Sakic was awesome that series.

    Imagine what he might’ve done here. Of course, they probably would’ve found a way to screw it up. I’m glad he finished his career with one franchise. He’s a throwback who will be missed.

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