July 10, 2009 / 12:01 AM / in 8 years

Sakic calls time after 20 seasons with Colorado

DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado Avalanche captain and Canadian international Joe Sakic drew the curtain on a glittering 20-season career in the NHL on Thursday.

<p>Colorado Avalanche's Peter Forsberg (L) is congratulated by teammate Joe Sakic after Foresberg scored against the Vancouver Canucks during third period NHL play in Vancouver, British Columbia April 1, 2008. This was Forseberg's first goal since returning to the Avalanche. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>

The triple Olympian and double Stanley Cup winner, who celebrated his 40th birthday on Tuesday, officially announced his retirement at a news conference.

“After having the privilege of playing for 20 years, I‘m leaving the game of hockey with nothing but great memories and a sense of accomplishment,” Sakic said.

“The game has given me more than I ever dreamed of, and for that I am truly grateful.”

Sakic wore the ‘C’ as team captain for 16 consecutive seasons with Colorado and 17 overall, making him the second-longest serving captain of all time in the league.

He played a staggering 1,378 games for the franchise and retires as the NHL’s eighth most prolific scorer with 1,641 career points.

His bulging trophy cabinet includes Colorado’s first Hart Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2001, the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1996, the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship in 2001 and Olympic gold in 2002.

Sakic was a 13-times All-Star and represented his country at the Olympics in 1998, 2002 and 2006. He led the Avalanche to Stanley Cup titles in 1996 and 2001.

Renowned for his lethal wrist shot, he scored 30 or more goals in a franchise-record nine different seasons and surpassed the 20-goal mark in 17 of his 20 campaigns.

”We celebrate the brilliant career of our captain, the face of our franchise for the past two decades,“ Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix said. ”Joe’s contributions have been invaluable and his achievements speak for themselves.

“I find myself very much like a hockey fan, filled with a tremendous sense of satisfaction which comes from having had the opportunity to know him as a person, to have watched him play and simply appreciate him as a complete professional.”

Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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