AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | Joe Sakic to become Hockey Hall of Famer
Special to the Tribune
STATELINE, Nev. – After being a 13-time all-star and one of the best scoring forwards in the history of the National Hockey League, Joe Sakic will receive a final recognition of his brilliant career this November, when he is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Sakic reflected on the upcoming honor Saturday as he was early in his second round at the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
“You don’t really know what being in the Hall of Fame is going to mean to you, but when you get the call it hits home,” said the lefty golfer who sports a 2 handicap. “You are just so appreciative of all the people who helped you in your youth. It gives you a chance to reflect on your accomplishments. When I was a kid, I just wanted to play in the NHL.
“Twenty-five years later to be in the Hall of Fame and be among the best of the best, it’s a tremendous honor.”
“He was one of the best,” added Brett Hull, a Hall of Famer himself. “He could do it all.”
Sakic won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche. Today, he is an executive for the team that he captained for 17 consecutive seasons.
Sakic had 14 points after the first round, but made an early run to move up the leaderboard with birdies in two of his first three holes. The 54-hole tournament uses a Stableford scoring system that awards graduated points for pars or better.
He curled in a downhill 35-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 second hole and then hit an approach shot snuggly to eight feet on the par-5 third hole and made the putt. All of a sudden he had six quick points and was one point out of the lead.
“I never even started playing golf until after I got drafted (in 1988),” said Sakic, “The veterans all said, ‘if you’re going to play hockey, you have to play golf.’ So, I had to get a set of clubs.”
Fourteen years later at the 2011 American Century Championship, Sakic won $1 million by making a hole-in-one at the par-3 17th hole.
The 43-year-old is a caring individual who runs a food bank in the Denver area. And he is touched by this week’s shootings and deaths in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
“You hate to see something like that,” said Sakic with emotion in his voice. “You don’t even know what to think. Why do things like that happen? You feel so bad. Your thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected by this.”
— Craig Smith is the former director of media relations for the U.S. Golf Association.