Source: Avs' Sakic done after 20 years

Updated: July 8, 2009, 10:49 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

[+] EnlargeJoe Sakic
Gerry Thomas/Getty ImagesJoe Sakic, who played his entire career with the Colorado/Quebec franchise, retired as the active leader in both assists (1,016) and points (1,641).

DENVER -- Joe Sakic, the Colorado Avalanche's longtime captain who led the team to two Stanley Cup titles, will retire Thursday and end his 20-year NHL career, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday.

The Associated Press first reported that Sakic, a 13-time All-Star, will formally announce his decision Thursday in a news conference.

Sakic, who turned 40 on Tuesday, has been the face of the franchise since the team relocated to Denver from Quebec in 1995. He teamed with Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote to capture the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001. He also led Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002.

Sakic was one of 46 players invited to Canada's pre-Olympic summer camp earlier this month. The camp will be held Aug. 24-28 in Calgary. He can play in the event if the Hockey Canada brain trust decides to name him to the team before the new year.

The 2010 Games will take place in Sakic's hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia.

"Obviously there are not too many people who get a chance to play in the Olympics in their hometown," Sakic told TSN at the end of the 2008-09 regular season. "That would be something special, but going into the summer you have to be realistic with yourself and health-wise and motivation-wise you have to be willing to do what it takes."

Sakic also debated returning following the 2007-08 season, a deliberation that went into August. Sakic announced he would return for the upcoming season, but was noncommittal about anything after that.

Sakic retires following a season in which he missed all but 15 games due to back and hand injuries and surgery on a herniated disk that sidelined him the majority of the year.

At season's end, Sakic promised he would not wait as long to make a decision, but was still undecided.

"This is what you've done your whole life. Since I was 6 years old I've played hockey," Sakic said. "I think when you get to that point, you have to decide first and foremost if you can do it at the level you want to play at, and secondly if you're willing to do what it takes off the ice to get that accomplished."

Sakic will go out as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He is second all-time among active players with 625 career goals and first in points and assists with 1,641 and 1,016, respectively.

Sakic won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup playoffs MVP in 1996, but perhaps his best season came in 2000-01. Sakic finished the year with a career-high 51 goals and won the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for "gentlemanly conduct" and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the "most outstanding player selected by the NHL Players' Association."

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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