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Friday, June 15, 2001

Sakic is no ordinary Joe

Wins Hart, Lady Byng and Pearson awards

By MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun
 Joe Sakic's face turned as maroon as his Colorado Avalanche jersey when the subject of his trophy case was brought up.

 "Yeah, I have one, but it's certainly not full," the Avalanche captain said yesterday afternoon.

 It is now.

 In one of the most memorable one-day hauls of hardware in NHL history, Sakic yesterday won two of the most prestigious prizes in the sport during the league's annual awards ceremony last night at the Air Canada Centre.

 Just five days after hoisting the Stanley Cup, Sakic, 31, won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player and the Lady Byng Trophy as the player who exhibited the best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.

 Earlier in the day, Sakic, a native of Burnaby, B.C., was the recipient of the 2001 Lester B. Pearson award as the most outstanding player during the NHL season as voted by members of the National Hockey League Players' Association.

 "Winning the championship Saturday night, the parade on Monday, now this -- I couldn't imagine a better week in hockey," Sakic said.

 "When my career is over, this definitely is a moment I will cherish."

 Sakic joins Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky and Bob Clarke as the only players to captain their teams to a Stanley Cup and win the Hart Trophy in the same season.

 Perhaps the most telling image of Sakic occurred last Saturday after Colorado's 3-1 Stanley Cup-clinching victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the final. Sakic accepted the Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and immediately handed it over to teammate Raymond Bourque, who had waited 22 years to kiss the silver mug.

 "He already wanted to talk after Game 6 about having me accepting the Cup," Bourque said. "I told him I didn't want to discuss it until after we had won it, but that shows you what type of thoughtful guy Joe is.

 "He's a great player but a great person, too."

 Interestingly, Sakic is among a number of stars whose future remains cloudy heading into the summer.

 He becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and could command a salary in the $10-million US range.

 "I'm still celebrating, so I'm not thinking about that right now," said Sakic, who had 54 goals and 64 assists for 118 points to finish three points behind Jaromir Jagr in the scoring race. "My wife and kids and I will go on vacation next week, then we'll discuss it. We would like to stay (in Denver) if things work out, but who knows right now?"

 Jagr, who won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer, appears a cinch to be moved by the Pittsburgh Penguins this summer. Jagr and the team's part-owner, Mario Lemieux, finalists for the Pearson award, did not even sit together during the afternoon ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

 Jagr, unlike Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek, said he is not demanding to be moved to a Cup contender should he be traded.

 "I don't like it when guys say they'll only play for a winner," Jagr said. "I'm not going to say, "I'll just play for Colorado or Detroit."

 Asked about facing the prospect of being dealt to one of the league's also-rans, Jagr replied "I look forward to the challenge."

 Only the great Jacques Plante won more Vezinas (seven) as the league's top goaltender than the six collected by Hasek. The Maple Leafs' Curtis Joseph finished eighth, collecting one second- and one third-place vote.

 The Detroit Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom spoiled Bourque's Cinderella season by capturing the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenceman.

 Lidstrom's attention has not been on hockey of late. After the season, his wife, Annika, was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid that produces a poison if not treated. She received immediate radioactive treatment and is on medication.



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