Joseph Steven Sakic was born July 7, 1969, in the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, suburb of Burnaby, the son of Croatian immigrants Marijan, a carpenter and commercial fisherman, and Slavica Sakic, a homemaker. Before Joe started school, his family spoke only Croatian at home. Learning English a little later than other students, combined with a natural shyness, probably caused him to develop the economy of words he is known for today, particularly around reporters.
Many promising young Canadian hockey players left their hometowns to play major junior hockey. Sakic and two teammates moved to Saskatchewan to play with the Swift Current Broncos when Joe was seventeen. The players lived with host families and attended Swift Current Comprehensive High School. There Joe met Debbie Metivier, who would become his wife a few years later.