VIDEO: Our meeting with SakicWe briefly met with the Avs general manager during our trip in Sweden.
Joe Sakic. A name known not only to hockey fans, but to sports fans in general. He is the one who pot the Colorado Avalanche on the map. The Canadian forward, whose both parents are Croatian-born, won the World Championship, the Olympics and the Stanley Cup two times, making him a member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club. He’s the franchise leader in almost every statistical category. The team honored him by retiring his jersey prior to the very next possible game. He also ranks among the career statistical leaders of the entire NHL. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame three years after hanging up his skates as a first-year nominee. He certainly is a hockey legend. Based on our personal experience, he is also a wonderful person.
Members of the Eurolanche Fan Club never saw Sakic play. He played his last game in November 2008 and officially retired after the end of the season. The Eurolanche Invasion I took place a month later… We first met Sakic during Invasion III back in 2010. We met him for the second time during Invasion V in 2013. It was only a short meeting, during which we managed to take a couple of photos and got several autographs. Eurolanche was slowly getting bigger and bigger, Sakic was named the club’s general manager and our “mutual relationship” headed into a new, different direction.
Then the most recent Invasion, the Eurolanche Invasion IX, took place. Sakic parked his car in front of the team’s training facility. We were surprised that he was at the facility on an off-day. We greeted each other, took pictures and everyone got autographs. Luckily, the entire scenario repeated itself a few days later, because I forgot to give Sakic his iconic poster from one of the older ProHockey magazines to sign. I asked him if he could make it out to me, telling him my name. He reacted by saying that he knows who I am, leaving me both pleasantly surprised and shocked at the same time. I couldn’t think of any better proof of Sakic knowing about us.
It would be too good to be true if we had managed to arrange a meeting with Sakic during the most recent World Championship, during which he was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame. With low expectations, I wrote him an e-mail. And he wrote back. Sadly, he didn’t have time, but at least he responded. Joe Sakic, the general manager of the Colorado Avalanche wrote back even though he didn’t have time to meet. This repeated itself several times later.
The Eurolanche Raid 2017 ended three weeks ago. We spent almost five days in Sweden, where we saw two games between the Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators. I wrote about the unique experience, entirely different from the Eurolanche Invasion project, in another article. Some of us spent parts of two days waiting outside of the hotel, where the players were accommodated. At the last possible day, we told ourselves that we would wait the longest. After approximately two hours, we decided to have a bite to eat in the city. As we sat down, another Eurolanche member informed us that Sakic just arrived at the hotel. Some of us ran back. Another two hours passed. We were preparing to go back to the hotel, from where we had to go to the game as soon as possible, when we suddenly saw Sakic leave the hotel.
I ran up to him and introduced myself. Sakic immediately recognized me and greeted me with a handshake. I heard the baffled gasps of other fans (mostly waiting for Ottawa fans) behind me. They couldn’t believe their own eyes. I asked Sakic if we could take a group picture with our members, who remained at the hotel despite the freezing cold. Sakic didn’t hesitate, gave out a couple of autographs and took pictures with us. I also managed to give him the book detailing the first 10 years of the Eurolanche Fan Club in English. He thanked me a second time while he was leaving, to which I said that I hoped he would like it, to which he replied that he surely will. Not to forget that he asked about our next Eurolanche Invasion and that he shook the hands of all Eurolanche members before definitely leaving. I think that each of our members lived out a dream right there at the hotel. Based on their reactions, they couldn’t believe what just happened.
Afterwards, I realized that during our meeting with Sakic, I managed to press the record button of my small handheld camera, which captured a part of this unforgettable moment.
Joe Sakic once again proved what a great person he is, proving that he wasn’t only an immensely talented player, but that he also has great character. I have about 1,000 of his hockey cards and dozens of other souvenirs that could use his autograph. I don’t doubt that others that met also have a lot of memorabilia, which they would’ve loved for him to sign, but it isn’t about that at all. It’s not about the autographs. I didn’t ask for a single one, others asked for maybe two or three in total. It’s about the experience, which will always stand above all the materialistic things, the souvenirs and memorabilia. It’s about the people, to which we look up with respect and whom we’ve been supporting throughout the years. It’s about the memories, which you’ll remember for the rest of your life. It’s about all those little things. A greeting from Sakic? Even a handshake? A smile? Him wanting to take pictures with us? These are the things fans will value the most, because they’re simply priceless.
During the time I spent working in the “hockey world”, I met a lot of people with different approaches. I won’t waste your time with details. These people don’t deserve the sentences I would write about them, but I will proudly spread the truth about Joe Sakic. The truth that he wasn’t just a legend on the ice, but that he’s been continuously respecting his fans – who always returned the favor. This is how it should be everywhere. We’re all on the same boat. The fans, players, coaches, managers… Without good players, coaches and managers, there wouldn’t be enough fans to keep a club in the city. There wouldn’t be any clubs without dedicated fans. It’s a mutual relationship, whether someone likes it or not. Kudos to those who realize it in time.
Joe Sakic will forever remain a legend and our friend. We at the Fan Club will always support him and have his back. We’ll always say that it’s not just about your work achievements, but about other qualities, like character and their demeanor off the ice. It’s interesting to see what separates Sakic and other legends of different sports from the others, who still haven’t realized that they’ve already won it all. Those are the true champions, who stayed with their feet on the ground.
Thank you, Joe, for all the beautiful memories!
This article was originally written by David Puchovsky
Eurolanche.com, Worldwide, firstname.lastname@example.org
02/12/2017 - 22:30