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Saku Antero Koivu (born November 23, 1974) is a Finnishmarker professional ice hockey player and an alternate captain of the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He began his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1995–96 after three seasons with TPS of the Finnish SM-liiga. Koivu served as the Canadiens' captain for nine of his thirteen seasons with the club (not including the locked-out 2004–05 season), which makes his the second longest captaincy tenure in team history after Jean Béliveau.

Playing career

SM-liiga

Saku started his professional ice hockey career playing for TPS in the Finnish SM-liiga, beginning in 1992–93. He posted 10 points in his rookie season, including 5 points in the playoffs to help TPS to a Kanada-malja championship. After improving to 53 points the following season, he put up a league-high 73 points in 1994–95. In addition to earning the Veli-Pekka Ketola trophy as league scoring champion, Koivu was awarded the Kultainen kypärä award as the players' choice for the best player and the Lasse Oksanen trophy as league MVP. He went on to record 17 points in 13 post-season games that year to earn the Jari Kurri trophy as playoff MVP and win his second Kanada-malja trophy in three years with TPS.

Montreal Canadiens

Koivu was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, following his rookie season in the SM-liiga, as their first-round selection (21st overall). He moved to North America for the 1995–96 season to join the Canadiens. In his first year, Koivu ranked 4th in scoring amongst NHL rookies with 45 points in 82 games. The following season, Koivu was among the NHL leading scorers (13 goals, 25 assists and 38 points) before suffering a knee injury on December 7, 1996, in a game against Chicago Blackhawks. He missed 32 games that season but returned to finish with 56 points in 50 games.

The next two seasons, Koivu continued to miss time with various leg injuries; however, in each year, he managed to play in more than 60 regular season games, scoring 57 and 44 points in 1997–98 and 1998–99 respectively. With the departure of team captain Vincent Damphousse in 1998–99, Koivu was named the 27th captain for the Canadiens on September 30, 1999. He also became the first European-born captain in team history. His first season as captain, however, was cut short due to a dislocated shoulder which took him off the ice for 40 games. After returning, he suffered another knee injury, resulting in a shortened 24-game season, in which Koivu recorded 21 points. The next season, in 2000–01, Koivu sat out another 28 games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, limiting him to 47 points.

After six seasons in the NHL, Koivu was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on September 6, 2001, and missed nearly the entire 2001–02 season. Koivu was on his way back from Finland with Canadiens teammate Brian Savage, who said he looked pale. He was suffering serious pains in stomach and vomiting. and went to see the Canadiens' physician David Mulder, who, after several tests discovered the cancer. Koivu received large numbers of get-well e-mails and letters from fans and was also in touch with Mario Lemieux, John Cullen and Lance Armstrong; all athletes who had beaten cancer and made successful returns to their respective sports.

Koivu was expected to be out for the season but made a remarkable comeback in time for the last few games. Fans gave Koivu an eight-minute standing ovation when he skated onto the Molson Centermarker ice for the first time on April 9, 2002. Koivu helped the team to gain a playoff spot and they went on to beat the top-seeded Boston Bruins in six games. For his courage and off-ice team leadership while undergoing cancer treatment, he was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy following the 2002 playoffs. He followed up in 2002–03 by scoring what was then a career best 71 points (21 goals, 50 assists).

Koivu suffered further knee problems in 2003–04 and was forced to miss 13 games. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Koivu returned to Finland to play for TPS, whose head coach at the time was his father, Jukka Koivu. He was joined in Turku by Canadiens teammate Craig Rivet. When NHL play resumed in 2005–06, Koivu returned to the Canadiens to tally 62 points in 72 games. On April 26, 2006, however, during a home playoff game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Koivu sustained a serious injury to his left eye. Hurricanes forward Justin Williams attempted to lift Koivu's stick but instead struck him in the eye. Koivu was rushed to the hospital, where he would remain overnight and for the remainder of the playoffs. Williams attempted to contact Koivu to apologize personally, but was only able to leave him a message on his cell phone. Koivu remained out of the lineup for the rest of the series and underwent surgery to repair a detached retina during the off-season.

Koivu has admitted to having lost some degree of peripheral vision out of the injured eye which he will likely never regain. As well, a small cataract developed following the retinal re-attachment surgery that was later successfully removed. He has since opted to wear a larger style of visor than he had previously worn.

Koivu's play the next season demonstrated that he can still complement his linemates with seemingly no adverse impact to his performance. He reached the 500-point mark for his NHL career on January 9, 2007, in a game in which the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 4–2. With 2:47 remaining in regulation, Koivu fed Michael Ryder with a pass across the slot for a power-play goal prompting a standing ovation for Koivu from the sellout crowd of 21,273 in Montreal. He went on to score 22 goals and 53 assists in 81 games, totaling 75 points, to surpass his previous career-high. At the season's annual awards banquet, Koivu was announced as the winner of the King Clancy Trophy for his role in the cancer-fighting Saku Koivu Foundation. The Canadiens' team doctor, Dr. David Mulder, received the award on Koivu's behalf as he wasn't present. Waiting until the end of the season, Koivu underwent further surgery to his eye and also tried a contact lens design to counteract the cataract's effects.

Early in the 2007–08 season in October, Koivu was criticized by nationalist lawyer Guy Bertrand for not speaking French in a videotaped pre-game ceremony. Although Koivu is fluent in English, Swedish and Finnish, he speaks limited French and is apprehensive about using it in public. He replied to Bertrand's remarks that he is not perfect, and jokingly mentioned that he speaks French to his wife during intimate moments. Koivu introduced his team in the next pre-game video with the phrase "Ici Saku Koivu, voici mon équipe" ("Saku Koivu here, this is my team"). Later that season, in NHL.com's March 2008 edition of Impact! Magazine, Brian Compton listed the 10 best captains of all-time since Steve Yzerman was first named captain of the Detroit Red Wings in 1987; Koivu was included in the article in the 10th place, behind the likes of Mark Messier and Mario Lemieux. He finished the season with 56 points. In the subsequent 2008 playoffs, Koivu missed a couple games with a broken foot. Nevertheless, he contributed 9 points in 7 games.

On October 18, 2008, Koivu moved up to seventh on the Canadiens all-time assist list over the legendary Maurice "Rocket" Richard in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. Koivu netted one and assisted on two from newly-acquired linemate Alex Tanguay when the Habs beat Coyotes 4-1. Koivu reached another milestone with his 600th career point the following game against the Florida Panthers on October 20, 2008.

Upon the conclusion of the 2008–09 season, Koivu tied Jean Béliveau as the longest serving captain in team history, having held the position for ten seasons. Koivu's tenure ended a ten-year period from 1989 to 1999, in which six Canadien team captains were traded away. Becoming an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, Koivu and the Canadiens parted ways after thirteen seasons. On July 8, 2009, he signed a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks worth $3.25 million, where he will play alongside countryman Teemu Selänne. Koivu became an alternate captain of his new team.

International play

Koivu has represented Finland on several occasions and is the national team's captain. Koivu was named the successor of a long-time captain Timo Jutila after he retired from international play in 1997. Koivu's first duty came in 1998 when the 1998 Winter Olympics took place in Nagano. He has held the post ever since, with one exception in 2008 when he joined the team in the middle of the tournament. He was offered the C letter but declined pleading "it would only stir things up and the team has already a great captain, Ville Peltonen."

Most recently, Koivu won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and bronze medals at the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics. He was also on the 2004 World Cup team, which advanced to the final but lost against Canada, thereby winning the silver medal.

Koivu's most renowned achievement with Team Finland is as first line center in the 1995 IIHF World Championships, where Finlandmarker won its only IIHF men's gold medal to date. Koivu played in the first line with Jere Lehtinen and Ville Peltonen (the "Huey, Dewey, and Louie" line ), who were all selected as tournament all-stars.

Koivu is partnered with Teemu Selänne and Jere Lehtinen in a line if all three are available. The trio has been a key factor to Finland's success at bigger events. However, Koivu and Selänne have played numerous times without Lehtinen and have had great performances which have also affected the NHL; after 1999 World Championships Selänne said in an interview on a Finnish TV program: "It would be great to play with Saku" which led to rumours about Koivu being traded to Anaheim. Koivu signed with Anaheim in July 2009.

On February 23, 2006, Koivu was elected by his fellow Olympic competitors as a member of the Athletes' Commission of the IOCmarker.

Koivu has played for Finland in:



Personal life

Koivu was born to Jukka and Tuire Koivu on November 23, 1974, in Turkumarker, Finlandmarker. His younger brother Mikko is a forward for the Minnesota Wild and is the team's current captain.In 2008, Koivu was featured in the Simple Plan music video for the song Save You, which was originally written for the lead singer's brother. The music video features many cancer survivors such as Koivu.

Awards and honors

SM-liiga



NHL



International

  • Ice Hockey World Championships Tournament All-Star - 1994, 1995, 1999
  • Ice Hockey World Championships Tournament's Best Forward - 1995, 1999
  • Ice Hockey World Championships Tournament's Top scorer - 1999
  • Finnish Ice hockey player of the year - 1994, 1995
  • Turin 2006 Winter Olympics - Tournament All-Star
  • Turin 2006 Winter Olympics - Top scorer
  • Captain of Team Finland - 1998-present


Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/– GP G A Pts PIM
1992–93 TPS SM-L 46 3 7 10 28 -5 11 3 2 5 2
1993–94 TPS SM-L 47 23 30 53 42 +27 11 4 8 12 16
1994–95 TPS SM-L 45 27 47 74 73 +33 13 7 10 17 16
1995–96 Montreal Canadiens NHL 82 20 25 45 40 -7 6 3 1 4 8
1996–97 Montreal Canadiens NHL 50 17 39 56 38 +7 5 1 3 4 10
1997–98 Montreal Canadiens NHL 69 14 43 57 48 +8 6 2 3 5 2
1998–99 Montreal Canadiens NHL 65 14 30 44 38 -7
1999–00 Montreal Canadiens NHL 24 3 18 21 14 +7
2000–01 Montreal Canadiens NHL 54 17 30 47 40 +2
2001–02 Montreal Canadiens NHL 3 0 2 2 0 0 12 4 6 10 4
2002–03 Montreal Canadiens NHL 82 21 50 71 72 +5
2003–04 Montreal Canadiens NHL 68 14 41 55 52 -5 11 3 8 11 10
2004–05 TPS SM-l 20 8 8 16 28 +11 6 3 2 5 30
2005–06 Montreal Canadiens NHL 72 17 45 62 70 +1 3 0 2 2 2
2006–07 Montreal Canadiens NHL 81 22 53 75 74 -21
2007–08 Montreal Canadiens NHL 77 16 40 56 93 -4 7 3 6 9 4
2008–09 Montreal Canadiens NHL 65 16 34 50 44 +4 4 0 3 3 2
NHL totals 791 191 450 641 623 -10 54 16 32 48 42
SM-L totals 158 61 92 153 171 +66 41 17 22 39 64


International

Year Team Event GP G A Pts PIM
1993 Finland WC 6 0 1 1 2
1994 Finland OLY 8 4 3 7 12
1994 Finland WC 8 5 6 11 4
1995 Finland WC 8 5 5 10 18
1996 Finland WCH 4 1 3 4 4
1997 Finland WC 6 2 2 4 2
1998 Finland OLY 6 2 8 10 4
1999 Finland WC 10 4 12 16 4
2003 Finland WC 7 1 10 11 4
2004 Finland WCH 6 3 1 4 2
2006 Finland OLY 8 3 8 11 12
2008 Finland WC 6 0 3 3 4
WC totals 51 17 39 56 38
OLY totals 22 9 19 28 28
WCH totals 10 4 4 8 6
Int'l totals 83 30 62 92 72


See also



References

  1. hockeyfights.com - Saku Koivu Diagnosed With Cancer
  2. ESPNMAG.com - Koivu vs. cancer
  3. http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/recap?gameId=220409010
  4. CBC Sports Online: NHL Playoffs 2006
  5. TSN : NHL - Canada's Sports Leader
  6. TSN : NHL - Canada's Sports Leader
  7. Canadiens' Koivu cautious over eye injury
  8. YouTube - Broadcast Yourself
  9. TSN : NHL - Canada's Sports Leader
  10. TSN : NHL - Canada's Sports Leader
  11. TSN : NHL - Canada's Sports Leader
  12. NHL.com - Impact! Magazine
  13. Recap: Phoenix @ Montréal 10/18/2008
  14. Recap: Florida @ Montréal - 10/20/2008
  15. Koivu won't replace Ville Peltonen as captain
  16. [1]


External links




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