July 9 2009, 12:50 PM
Joe Sakic's retirement marks the career end of one of Denver's all-time premier athletes. But it also hastens the looming extinction of active Quebec Nordiques players in the National Hockey League. The Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995 and became the Avalanche, and Sakic was one of four remaining active members who played for the team last season, according to The Wall Street Journal. One of the other three, Adam Foote, still technically plays for the Avalanche, but it's unclear whether the aging defenseman will return for another season. The other two are Owen Nolan and longtime Toronto Maple Leafs star Mats Sundin, who played last year for the Vancouver Canucks. In another article, the Journal points out the massive turnover of NHL rosters in the last 10 days through free agency and trades. One of the biggest deals was the Avalanche's trade of Ryan Smyth (pictured) to the Los Angeles Kings. According to the Journal's analysis, Smyth (pictured) was the fourth most important player to his team who will skate next year for another team. He was on the ice for the Avalanche 51.8 percent of the time in clutch situations (the last two minutes of tied or one-goal games). We already knew we were losing a gamer, but the Journal had to go and rub it in. Thanks, guys.