Action (Figure) Speaks Louder Than Words For Sakic

(AP) DENVER Nice guys don't always win the Lady Byng Trophy.

Instead, they become action figures.

Upper Deck announced its plans to release a limited number of superhero-inspired action figures of Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic on June 19.

The news that Sakic would be immortalized as a sports collectible arrived just before the NHL announced Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk as the Lady Byng Trophy winner for the second straight year Thursday night at its annual awards show in Toronto.

Sakic was up for the award for the fifth time in his career. It's presented to the hockey player who best exemplifies sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. He won the award in 2001.

The action figure depicts a Sakic like never seen, complete with ripped muscles that would make the Incredible Hulk envious. He's just the third NHL player in Upper Deck's All-Star Vinyl action figure series, joining Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin.

"Joe's an amazing athlete," said Don Williams, corporate spokesman for Upper Deck. "He's the face of the Avalanche."

Colorado forward Paul Stastny was among the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which is presented to the league's most outstanding rookie.

The award went to Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, who led all NHL rookies in goals (33), assists (52) and points (85).

"Malkin had a phenomenal season," Stastny said in a teleconference. "It was just an honor to go see the awards ceremony and hanging out with the cream of the crop up here."

Stastny finished second in the voting, just like he was second in points (78) and assists (50) among rookies last season. Stastny's season was highlighted by setting an NHL rookie record with a 20-game point streak.

"I just wanted to come in and try to make the team and do anything to help the team," said Stastny, who was named to the league's all-rookie team Thursday. "I ended up having a great season."

Stastny's father, Peter, won the top rookie award in 1981 as a member of the Quebec Nordiques, which became the Avalanche in 1995. Peter Forsberg (1995) and Chris Drury (1999) also won the Calder Trophy while with Colorado.

Sakic, 37, has proven to be a gentleman and a scorer on the ice. He had 36 goals and 64 assists in 2006-07, becoming the second-oldest player in NHL history to score 100 points in a season. Gordie Howe had 103 points in 1968-69 at the age of 40.

Known as "Silent Joe" for letting his on-ice ability do all his talking, Sakic signed a one-year deal in April to remain in Colorado for a 19th season.

Upper Deck will release two versions of the Sakic action figure. There will be 1,500 of him in a home sweater and 500 in an away version. The action figure retails for $49.95, but could be worth three times that value in a few years, according to Williams.

"He has a lot of cache in the collectible industry," Williams said. "The collectors love his (cards) and his pieces. We couldn't have picked a better athlete to immortalize."

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