Joe Sakic re-signed with the Colorado Avalanche yesterday with a one-year contract worth $6 million that will bring him back for his 20th NHL season.
It is scary to think that Sakic was thiiiiiiisss close to being a Ranger 11 years ago. Unfortunately the Aves matched the Rangers' offer sheet and New York was doomed to seven years without the playoffs.
Had Sakic headed for Broadway, who knows what would have happened. At the least, New York would have remained competitive against the stifling Devils system. Sakic would have been the crown jewel in a rebuilt Ranger roster and found immediate comfort thanks to the signings of his Colorado teammates Mike Keane and Brian Skrudland. Sakic could have helped keep Theo Fleury on a leash and perhaps Valeri Kamensky wouldn't have been as big of a bust.
And Rangers wouldn't really have missed the five first round draft picks that went the other way, as they pissed them away themselves by drafting Manny Malhotra (1998), Pavel Brendl (1999), Jamie Lundmark (also '99), Dan Blackburn (2001) and Hugh Jessiman (2003). They didn't have first rounders in 2000 and 2002 ...
Now I am not about to say that the signing would have brought Stanley back, but I am sure that the Aves would not have won the 2001 Cup. Sakic had 118 regular season points and 26 more in that magical Run For Ray Bourque. Bourque left Boston to take one last run at a championship and if Sakic was in New York, maybe he would have chosen the Rangers. Could you imagine a Blueshirt blueline with Bourque and Leetch? And think about a one-two punch down the middle with Sakic and Messier, who had returned from Vancouver by then. How scary would that have been?
But I have to say, even scarier is the thought that the Rangers' offer of three years $21 mill was extravagant at that time. Now say that it was worth it and take the dream of Sakic as a Ranger a step forward and say that his addition would indeed have brought another Cup to New York. Now there is nothing that can replicate the boom in popularity that breaking the curse at 54 years brought to the NHL, but another Ranger Cup would have served the league much better than the wins in Colorado, Dallas and even Detroit. If the Rangers won at the turn of the century, would we still have lost the 2004-05 season to a lockout? Would the lockout have come even earlier or would it have not happened at all?
Something to ponder ...