TORONTO (AP) — There is something missing from Joe Sakic’s new plaque at the Hockey Hall of Fame — and it’s not because the printer made a mistake.
Among the list of his many achievements is no mention of his 21st NHL season, the one that was never played because of the 2004-05 lockout. With the sport back in another dark period brought on by another labor dispute,
Sakic reflected on the year that never was on the day he took his place among hockey’s greats.
“I lost a year of hockey,” Sakic said Monday prior to the induction ceremony. “It would have been 21 years instead of 20. That’s what you lose.”
Fellow inductees Mats Sundin and Adam Oates were also in the NHL when the last lockout hit, while Pavel Bure, the fourth member of the class, was already retired.
Sundin never managed to win a Stanley Cup during his career and can’t help but wonder what could have been had the 2004-05 season been played. His Maple Leafs were on a run of six consecutive playoff appearances before that work stoppage.
“It was awful,” said Sundin. “I think it’s devastating.”
While all four of the inductees seem to have thoroughly enjoyed their induction weekend, the current lockout made it a more subdued affair than usual. They were to have been honored at Air Canada Centre prior to a scheduled Maple Leafs-Devils game Friday — a missed opportunity in particular for Sundin, the longtime Leafs captain, and Oates, who grew up in Toronto.
Sundin is back living in his native Sweden now but the impact of another work stoppage hasn’t gone unnoticed even from a distance.
“I think it’s huge,” he said. “The National Hockey League is kind of representing the game of hockey. It’s the biggest representative of the game of hockey in the world. When the NHL is not going, people lose focus on hockey.