Farewell Burnaby Joe; it's been a fun ride

Sean Leahy

"The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that captain Joe Sakic underwent successful surgery for a herniated disc and is expected to be out approximately 10 weeks."

"I understand that this was the best way for me to return to the ice, so now my focus and goal will be to get back as soon as possible to help my teammates in the final weeks of the season," said Sakic. -- Colorado Avalanche

It has been a very rough 2008-09 campaign for Joe Sakic. From the injuries early on in the season to the strange-but-true snow blower incident to back surgery, this could likely be it for one of the classiest players the National Hockey League has ever seen.

It was just two seasons ago that Sakic produced 36 goals and 100 points for the Colorado Avalanche, but one of the last of the remaining Quebec Nordiques still felt he had some hockey left in his body.

Now, at age 39 and suffering through injury upon injury the past two seasons, Sakic may be forced out of the game not on his own terms, like he had originally planned to, despite contemplating retirement over the summer. While Sakic's decision on his future is still up in the air, hockey fans can be assured he won't pull a Brett Favre or Mats Sundin as he was quoted over the summer:

"That's the biggest thing for me - when I make my decision, it's my decision," Sakic said. "I don't want to waver. If you announce something, make a decision one way or the other and then change your mind . . . it's not really fair.

"I wanted to know by now. I wanted to know in June. I'd like to know for sure before training camp. I'm not going to want to miss training camp and come back later in the year. If I'm playing, I'm playing the whole year. I'm going to training camp and be a part of the team."

Sakic is a sure-fire first ballot Hockey Hall of Famer. With two Stanley Cup rings, a Conn Smythe Trophy, Hart Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, three first-team NHL All-Star honors, 12 All-Star game appearances, Olympic, World Junior and World Championship gold medals, 625 goals, and 1641 points (and a funny commercial) to his name, Sakic won't be leaving anything behind.

Hockey fans can only hope when/if Sakic returns towards the end of this season, they don't see the Avs captain since 1992 playing as a shell of his former self, like so many athletes who hung on too long displayed during their careers.

If this is the end for Joe Sakic for the Colorado Avalanche, the hockey world will be losing great ambassador for the game.