For Joe and Debbie Sakic, Winning Never Gets Old

They are two of the handful of people who have been with the Colorado Avalanche from Day 1 in Denver. Joe and Debbie Sakic, the First Family of the Avalanche. And, with apologies to the Wilson family, probably the real, true First Family of Denver right now. They are two of the through-lines to that first Stanley Cup in 1996 and the one the team won Sunday night. They were both on the Amalie Arena ice when it was time to lift the Cup, and judging by the smiles on their faces, this wasn’t old hat.

They both met in high school in Saskatchewan in the 1980s, when Joe was a junior player with the Swift Current Broncos. Parents of two young men and a young woman still in college, they’ve managed to balance a hugely busy, on-the-go pressures of hockey at the highest level with their family life.

Everybody knows about Joe Sakic, Mr. Avalanche. His rock through all his great successes in hockey is Debbie, who always – always – has a smile and a friendly word for people. She’s always there with Joe, working hard for local charities, especially their annual golf tourney on behalf of Food Bank of the Rockies.

If it all seems like it’s been a storybook life for the couple, well, yeah it kind of has. Joe Sakic made a lot of money as a player and he still makes a lot of money as Avalanche GM (at least $3 million a year, maybe more). They live in a big house in Cherry Hills, and the Sakic trophy room is like a wing of the Hall of Fame. Sakic has tons of his old jerseys, and many more signed by legends of the game. They are all on a literal dry-cleaner-store rotating rack that moves at the touch of a button.

They enjoy some very fine wine on occasion, and Sakic still makes a mean marinated grilled, cedar-plank salmon.

Debbie Sakic has always doted on the three children – Chase, Mitchell and Kamryn. On the many times Joe has been on the road, Debbie was there holding down the fort at home with three young kids.

The family has never had a hint of scandal. Somehow, they’ve managed to stay grounded despite all of their astounding good fortune. They love Denver, but also have a summer home in British Columbia.

“Joe, what can you say? He’s a tremendous guy. He’s never changed, and neither has Debbie,” former Av Adam Foote told me on a road trip through British Columbia last year. “He’s a family guy. He doesn’t really love all the glitz and glamor. But he still does a good job with all of it.”

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Said former Avs teammate Alex Tanguay: “The’y’re both just very nice people, bottom line. There is no arrogance with them. They treat everybody well, from the owner to the janitor.”

Sakic just completed perhaps the most unbelievable GM job of anyone in recent NHL history. He made ALL the right moves this year, including acquiring four guys (Artturi Lehkonen, who scored the game-winner Sunday, Andrew Cogliano, Josh Manson and Nico Sturm). He got the best goalie on the market, Darcy Kuemper, at the time Philipp Grubauer made his “no-brainer” decision to go to the Seattle Kraken.

He signed Cale Makar to a long-team deal, signed Gabe Landeskog to a long-term deal and should soon sign Nathan MacKinnon to a long-term extension.

Sakic has now won three Cups (two as a player, one as a GM), along with an Olympic gold medal with Canada in 2002 – as tournament MVP. He’s won a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Hard Trophy. He’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

So, here’s the question: What’s left for Joe Sakic to accomplish in hockey? Nothing. Nothing except maybe more Cups.

Does he want to keep doing his job as GM, though? Some wonder if he might not hand over the reins to assistant GM Chris MacFarland at some point soon. Maybe, very soon. Maybe he’ll want a title of team president or something like that. Maybe he’s tiring of the grind of being an everyday GM.

We should know that at some point soon.

For now, though: there’s a lot of celebrating to do for Joe and Debbie the rest of the summer.

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