Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche will enter the Hockey Hall of Fame with one huge difference between his career and that of Mats Sundin, Pavel Bure and Adam Oates.
OK, make that two big differences: One from 1996 and the other from 2001.
The importance of winning a Stanley Cup is often a point of contention in Hall of Fame debates. Through the years, it may have elevated some candidates; but it's hard to determine if not owning a ring held back anyone, especially when three quarters of the Class of 2012 doesn't have their names on the Cup.
Sakic does, twice, which is part of his legend, having won the Conn Smythe in 1996. So during his call with the media on Tuesday, Sakic was asked the question:
Does he value his championships, including his Olympic gold medal, or his Hall of Fame selection more?
"There aren't many people in the Hockey Hall of Fame, so this is a tremendous honor. Obviously, it ranks right up there," he said.
"But as a kid, you're hoping [to win] championships."
Sakic continued: "You have a lot of breaks. I was very fortunate. You have to have great teams, and great players around you. We had some unbelievable players on our teams, and I feel very fortunate to have had that opportunity.
"That's what you play for. I think Mats said it earlier: When you retire, you have a lot more time to think about your career and what you've done. To get the call today was just an unbelievable honor. To have the committee select you as one of the guys to enter that Hockey Hall of Fame … you're amazed that you're one of those guys."
OK, so he didn't really choose one or the other, which was expected. But Sakic spelled out his stance on the "Stanley Cup as Hall of Fame credential" fairly clearly: It takes a tremendous amount of good fortune to win a championship.
For example: When the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 1996. It was the year after they relocated from Quebec, the Nordiques having been a team clearly on the rise.
"It was an incredible move our first year winning the Stanley Cup. The year before in Quebec … it was tough to move. We had such an exciting team, and were ready to take the next step," he recalled.
The move that put them over the top was, of course, the acquisition of Patrick Roy from the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 6, 1995. Sakic noted that as the kind of good fortune that a player needs to win a title.
"If we stayed in Quebec, I don't think we would have had Patrick Roy with us," he said.
Sakic will join Roy in the Hall of Fame this fall, sitting ninth in NHL history in points scored with 1,641. It's the culmination of a dream that began when Sakic was four years old, watching the Vancouver Canucks play the Atlanta Flames as a young lad in British Columbia.
"It's very proud. It's very humbling. To be placed in the Hall of Fame is a dream come true," said Sakic.