Joseph Steven Sakic (pronounced /ˈsækɨk/; born July 7, 1969) is a former Canadian professional ice hockey player. 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, captured 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 the greatest players of all time and one of the strongest team leaders in the league's history as he was able to motivate his team throughout his career to play at a winning level.
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. 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 and 11th in all-time assists. 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. 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. 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.
Sakic was born in Burnaby to Marijan and Slavica Sakic (originally Šakić, Croatian pronunciation: ), immigrants from Croatia (then a part of Yugoslavia). Growing up in Burnaby, he did not learn to speak English well until kindergarten, having been raised with Croatian as his mother tongue. This language barrier would make him a demure, quiet individual later in life. Growing up as the child of immigrants, Sakic was instilled with a strong work ethic, a trait which would serve him well in his hockey career. 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. After showing exceptional promise as a young hockey player in Burnaby, Sakic was referenced as a new Wayne Gretzky in the making. He scored 83 goals and 156 points in only 80 games for Burnaby, while attending school at Burnaby North Secondary . Soon after, he was added to the Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Hockey League for the last part of the 1985–86 season.