One of Burnaby’s own has topped the WHL’s list of best players of all-time.
Hometown boy Joe Sakic was revealed as the top WHL player on Tuesday at the 2016 WHL Awards in Calgary. Sakic began his hockey career playing in Burnaby before being called up to the WHL to play for the Swift Current Broncos in 1986. In his first season with the Broncos, Sakic garnered 133 points, including 60 goals and 73 assists, in just 72 games, earning him the Most Valuable Player award and WHL Rookie of the Year honour, noted a press release.
But the Burnaby Minor Hockey product didn’t stop there. In his sophomore season, Sakic was named CHL Player of the Year and for the second year in a row he was named the WHL’s Most Valuable Player. He also wrapped up the 1987/88 WHL season scoring a league-best 78 goals.
The following season, Sakic began what would become a 20-year career with a single NHL franchise. He was drafted 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the first round of the 1987 NHL draft. The team would eventually move south to Colorado where they became the Colorado Avalanche.
During his on-ice career, Sakic amassed 1,641 points in 1,378 games and would lead the team to two Stanley Cup wins. He now serves as executive vice-president of hockey operations and general manager of the Avalanche.
The WHL Top 50 Players of All-Time were chosen through a public vote. In the No. 2 and No. 3 spots are Bobby Clarke and Carey Price, respectively. Players were selected based on their performance while playing in the WHL and their careers after.
The WHL’s top-10 list includes Hockey Hall of Famers Bryan Trottier, Scott Neidermayer, Lanny McDonald, Mike Modano, Grant Fuhr and Cam Neely, and current member of the Colorado Avalanche’s Jarome Iginla.
Notable locals to make the grade are New Westminster Bruins’ Barry Beck (at No. 26), Vancouver Giants’ Brendan Gallagher (36), Burnaby natives Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (40) and Cliff Ronning (46), and New West Bruin Stu Barnes.
TWO Stanley Cups
- 1996 (Colorado Avalanche)
- 2001 (Colorado Avalanche)
FOUR gold medals
- 1988 IIHF World Junior Championships
- 1994 World Championships
- 2002 Winter Olympics
- 2004 World Cup of Hockey
Conn Smythe Trophy
Lady Byng Trophy
Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award)