By Daniel Williams, DENVER DAILY NEWS
No Colorado Avalanche player will ever don the No. 19, because “19” belongs to Captain Joe Sakic.
And the club made the move official Thursday as Sakic’s No. 19 was raised to the rafters of the Pepsi Center in an elaborate hour-plus-long pregame retirement ceremony.
The ceremony featured a brilliant highlight film that featured a classic 21-year-old Sakic interview where he was sporting a jean jacket and talking about his hockey hopes and dreams.
Current Avalanche players all wore Sakic No. 19 jerseys, and all stood on and watched one of the great players in NHL history leave the game once and for all.
Team owner Stan Kroenke was on hand, as well as team president Pierre Lacroix — who both spoke graciously about Sakic’s career.
Finally, Sakic spoke before a sold-out crowd that erupted once he was announced.
“You always look forward to the home opener. I am kind of getting that itch,” Sakic told the sold-out Pepsi Center crowd, which went nuts at the thought of a Sakic comeback.
“Just kidding,” Sakic quickly added.
Sakic went on to thank Quebec and the Quebec Nordiques, Lacroix and Lacroix’s commitment to winning, Kroenke and every Colorado Avalanche fan in the packed-out Pepsi Center.
He also emotionally thanked his many teammates throughout his 20-plus years – and many of them were on hand in the press box.
“Enjoy every minute because it goes by way to quick,” Sakic sadly told some of the younger Avalanche players.
Sakic then concluded his speech before his No. 19 banner was raised, but before one crazy and very loud fan yelled down: “One more time, Joe!”
Sakic laughed, and quickly responded: “I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
Moments later, Joe added: “Good night, everyone, and thank you so much.”
The crowd immediately rose to their feet for a five-minute standing ovation, which turned into chants of “Super Joe! Super Joe!” And Sakic then walked off the NHL ice for the last time.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters