The title of this post is the line from Eight Men Out, when a young boy questions Joe Jackson after he was included in the Black Sox scandal of 1919. The boy was shocked and disappointed that his hero had failed him. Well, Joe Sakic was one of the true hockey heroes of the last 20 years and, to the best of my knowledge, has never failed anyone.
All Sakic has done is rack up a ton of points, collect a slew of trophies - including the big silver one twice - and earned himself a ticket to the Hall of Fame. Along the way he has shown a dedication and determination that has won the hearts of millions of hockey fans - and not just those from Colorado and Quebec City. I'm one of them, and it will be sad to see him officially call it quits on Thursday.
I've taken a significant amount of flak lately for my vocal dislike for Donald Brashear, and the fact that he is now a Ranger. Where I see Brash symbolizing everything that is wrong with the game, Sakic represents everything that is right with it. I've spoken about Scotty Hockey Heroes here in the past and Sakic certainly is one. There are few higher praises that I can think of than to say, "damn, I wish he was a Ranger." For a brief moment, he almost was one - something I explored when he re-signed with the Aves before the 08-09 season and reposted it below.
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.Like Stevie Y, Joe never went for the limelight, it just came to him. And he handled it with a level of class and humility that belied the warrior spirit that carried him to victory on the ice. There aren't a lot of players left like that in the league (Nick Lidstrom, Jarome Iginla and ???), which makes Joe's retirement that much more poignant. He will be missed.
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 ...