Sakic enjoying hands-on time with his kids

DENVER -- Joe Sakic is enjoying too much fun with his family to begin pursuing any type of full-time employment in the NHL.

So, at least for the time being, the eighth-leading scorer in NHL history won't be following the career path of another former star center and longtime captain who wore sweater No. 19 -- Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman.

Sakic, 41, retired in July 2009 after a 20-season career with the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche, and he's content to spend quality time with his wife, Debbie, and their three children, Mitchell and twins Chase and Kamryn, at their Denver area home.

"I had such a fun year at home last year, I wanted to do it again," Sakic said Wednesday during a conference call to promote the Avalanche's 1996 Stanley Cup championship team reunion Oct. 6-7. "I've got my two boys in hockey and my daughter is in gymnastics. I'm trying to help coach both boys and taking my daughter to gymnastics and everything else and I'm just enjoying my retirement.

"Plus, my kids are at a perfect age for me to be around. I just didn't want to be traveling and leaving. I'm having the time of my life right now, so I don't want to kind of ruin that."

Sakic, whose 1,641 career points are the eighth-highest total in NHL history, has spoken with Avalanche President Pierre Lacroix from time to time about helping out in an unofficial capacity.

"I did talk to Pierre a little bit and said whenever he's in town, whenever they need me to come to a game, I'm here," he said. "I can help out that way without actually having a role in the organization. I watch all the games, so whatever they need, I'm here for them. But I don't need to have an actual job where I have to travel."

Sakic said he might be interested in a front office position once the children are older.

"No question," he said. "Once you're in the game and it's part of your life, you never want to leave it. At some point, if I want to get back into it and start doing something, (it would be) a bigger role where I want to be there more than part time. But you have to be committed to be able to travel and do the things you need to do to be successful in whatever role you're doing. Right now I'm enjoying this too much to go to a full-time commitment."

Sakic is looking forward to seeing former coaches and teammates who brought the first professional sports championship to Colorado. The reunion includes a team dinner Oct. 6 and a ceremony at the Pepsi Center the next night before the Avalanche opens regular-season play against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It's going to be a fun two days, just to get a chance to see what everyone is up to now," he said.

The Avalanche's predecessors, the Nordiques, posted a 30-13-5 record in 1994-95 and finished first in the Northeast Division but were upset by the New York Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs. The franchise was sold in June 1995, moved to Denver and renamed the Avalanche. Playing in since-razed McNichols Sports Arena, the Avalanche got off to a 10-3-1 start and finished with a 47-25-10 record, atop the Pacific Division standings.

Coached by Marc Crawford, the Avalanche were considered a Stanley Cup contender upon their arrival in the Mile High City with Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, Adam Deadmarsh, Mike Ricci and Sylvain Lefebvre leading the way. But Colorado became even stronger when Lacroix landed forward Claude Lemieux from New Jersey, defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh from San Jose, and goalie Patrick Roy and forward Mike Keane from Montreal in blockbuster trades.

"That was one of the best groups I've ever been around," Sakic said. "We were so close on and off the ice. The year before, we had a really talented team. With Claude coming in, you get the Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the year before, so that was a huge trade. We got off to a really good start, then getting Ozolinsh for (Owen) Nolan. We had really talented forwards, but to have a guy that could control the play from the back end and create even more ice for everybody was a huge pickup.

"When Pierre made the trade for Patrick and Keaner, it was his way to say, 'You know what? This is your chance.' We really believed at that moment that we had a real good chance."

Sakic led the Avalanche in scoring with 51 goals and 120 points in 82 regular-season games, and he was named Conn Smythe Trophy winner as postseason most valuable player after amassing 18 goals and 34 points in 22 playoff games in series wins against Vancouver, Chicago, Detroit and Florida.

The Avalanche swept the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final, but needed 63 saves from Roy and a goal from Uwe Krupp in the third overtime for a 1-0 victory in the clincher on June 10, 1996 inside steamy Miami Arena.

"There's nothing like it," Sakic said of winning the championship. "That's what you dream of as a kid when you're out there with your buddies playing street hockey. It's the pinnacle. It's all you ever wanted to do, to play and to lift the Stanley Cup over your head. It's a lifetime dream. When it comes true, it's hard to put into words."