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11 Saku Koivu 06-07


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Guest Just Jen

Did you guys see the interview with Koivu on The Hour with George Strombolopolos? It's really good. I can post it here if anyone wants. I wrote it up for a friend.

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Guest Un_Lavalois

Lol George is a big fan of the Habs, I like him! It's sad that Koivu has problems seeing the puck when the puck is close to his feet but he's a warrior, even if he couldnt see, he'd be our blind captain! I hope he recovers and win the cup with us.

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King Koivu Holds Court

Last night, after the Flyers-Canadiens game, all the Finns who played for the two sides -- minus the Canadiens' Janne Niinimaa-- chatted in the hallway between the two dressing rooms. I was struck by the way the back-and-forth banter stopped and the other Finnish players all stopped to listen as Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu talked.

Koivu may have been discussing his eye injury. For all I know, he could have been telling them where to find the best mustamakkara in Montreal (which would probably be the Koivu residence). But the topic of conversation hardly matters. The important point was the obvious deep respect and admiration the other players had for Koivu.

Watching Koivu play last night, in a game where he outplayed Peter Forsberg head to head, made me think back to his arrival in Montreal some eleven years ago. Koivu came over from TPS Turku and the Finnish national team with a lot of hype and he's lived up to every bit of it, as much for the intangibles he brings as for his stats.

Koivu's NHL debut actually came against the Flyers on opening night of the 1995-96 season, on a night where the Flyers ran roughshod over the Habs (I believe it was 7-1 final, without looking it up). I remember that Koivu sustained a heavy hit from Eric Lindros -- who towers over him and outweighs him by a good 50 pounds-- and bounced right back up and into the play. That kind of set the tone for his career. He's frequently gotten bowled over by bigger, more powerful forces and yet keeps plugging away and coming back to thrive.

Whether it's been his courageous battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or the serious eye suffered in the playoffs last year, Koivu has always been a true warrior on the ice. It's always been privilege to watch him play.

A few years ago, a Swedish hockey writer I know told me he was debating the merits of Mats Sundin's leadership versus Koivu's with a Finnish-born colleague of his. He told me, for the sake of Swedish pride, he argued on behalf of Sudden.

Then, almost apologetically, he swore me to secrecy and added, "But if I had to choose one or the other for my team, I'd actually pick Koivu."


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Just dug up and old Saku article...

MONTREAL -- He stood on the blue line, stick in one hand, his helmet in the other and the bright lights shone down on the blond hair that has sprouted on his head.

Saku Koivu stood there and shuffled his feet and the sound poured down from the stands.

And what was there in those cheers? Relief? A celebration of a young life battled for and won? Respect, encouragement, love?

All of those things.

The Montreal Canadiens captain stood in the bright light on the blue line before the game Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators and the fans and the players welcomed him back from a dark place, welcomed his return from a battle won with courage and grace and dignity.

"I never felt anything like that in my life. It was fun. The emotion from the fans was incredible," said the 27-year-old after the 4-3 victory by the Habs that propelled them into the playoffs for the first time in four years.

"I expected something, but not that much. It shows the kind of fans we have here."

Koivu wound up playing 13 shifts for a total of eight minutes and 22 seconds, mostly on the fourth line and occasionally on the power play.

It seems impossible that almost exactly seven months ago, Koivu had stood just a few feet away from where he stood Tuesday night. His head was clean shaven then, his hair the most visible victim of the chemotherapy treatments he had just begun to battle the non-Hodgkins lymphoma that had been discovered in his abdomen.

The cheers rained down that night as well, but they carried a different message then. Koivu stood alone in a darkened Molson Centre that night, wearing his red Canadiens sweater over his street clothes.

The cheers swelled the building that night as well, but they were tinged with fear. He was facing a battle that claims half its victims within five years. Play again? The question then was whether he would live. Nobody knew what the future held then, nobody knew how his body might be able to handle the ravages of the disease or the chemicals that were being pumped into his body to battle it.

Nobody knew if he would win his battle. The priority then was simply life, not hockey.

Only the most optimistic person in the Molson Centre on that night in October could have envisioned the scene Tuesday night.

Koivu, his cancer in remission since February, standing there waiting for the national anthem, his teammates standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him.

The crowd shouted its emotion and Koivu raised his stick in acknowledgment.

More cheers. For seven minutes it went on. The Senators stood on their bench, tapping their sticks on the boards in salute.

Public address announcer Michel Lacroix attempted to introduce anthem singer Nadya Blanchette and was shouted down.

Three times he tried.

The crowd continued to spill their passion through the anthem and erupted again when Koivu was introduced as the starting center. Referee Dan Marouelli stepped aside and Koivu once again stood at the bottom of the waterfall of emotion. He looked pleadingly at Marouelli.

"It was a great feeling to see him so happy," said Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet, who had raced to the bench and jumped into Koivu's arms after scoring the Canadiens' second goal.

"It was a great moment for me. He's been through so much. You can't help but smile every time you see his face. He's so happy to be back with the guys. When he went out onto the ice, I couldn't get the smile off my face."

Koivu took his public place with his team Tuesday, but he had never been far away. His teammates hung his sweater in his stall at home and on the road. He visited his teammates whenever his strength hadn't been completely sapped by his treatments.

"The day I got here, Saku was waiting for me," said Canadiens center Doug Gilmour, who signed with the club as a free agent in October. "He would walk in the dressing room like nothing was going on. You go home thinking you've got a little problem. You don't have a problem. There's people out there fighting for their lives."

"He still had an impact (in the last seven months)," said Rivet. "He was at the rink every day, even when he looked so sick with his bald head after chemo. He still came to the rink to cheer us on."

When Dr. David Mulder, the Canadiens team physician, broke the news to Koivu in September, Koivu didn't understand the word malignant.

He understood the word cancer.

Koivu said he never felt more alone.

He stood alone on that night in the dark Molson Centre in October, not knowing what lay ahead.

He did not stand alone Tuesday night.

He had teammates, a coaching staff, opponents, hockey fans, a city and the hockey world standing with him.

There are people standing today where he stood back in October, feeling alone, in the dark.

Tuesday night, he hopefully gave them light to help show them the way.


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King Koivu Holds Court


...A few years ago, a Swedish hockey writer I know told me he was debating the merits of Mats Sundin's leadership versus Koivu's with a Finnish-born colleague of his. He told me, for the sake of Swedish pride, he argued on behalf of Sudden.  

Then, almost apologetically, he swore me to secrecy and added, "But if I had to choose one or the other for my team, I'd actually pick Koivu." [/i]

Good one! Shows how much respect Saku has.

Go Saku go

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Saku has been the key to our great start this year, Guy has been matching him up against other teams top players and not only has Saku been keeping them off the scoresheet, but he's been getting his name on there quite a bit.... We saw him do this against Thornton in the playoffs. Saku really makes this team run, and a lot of people throw out stats to judge him, and yes he puts up good numbers, but you can't judge him by stats, he brings so much to the table.

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Guest FirstStar

I for one, was surprised to see captain "K" back so soon and on the other hand, not so surprised. This guys a trooper, very few players have had his type of personal battles...He stands in a group of players, that only a few have the honour to be a part of. Our own Montreal (Laval) Mario L is one of those players as well, these people should are true hero's and inspirations to us all.

Like I said earlier, I was surprised, then I wasn't, after thinking about it. He's battled issue's, that some of us could only dream of. I followed his recovery all summer; I really didn't expect to see him so soon. He's got such a love of the game, forget the money, he could've stayed home for 6 more months, payed. He chose to get back on the ice and give it his all. When he's not playing for the Habs, he's playing on the Finnish national team. In a way, he's showed us (Canadians), the true spirit of hockey. Not playing for the money or the highest offer but, for the love of the game. I'd take 10 more like him, than a Canadian bred and born, who is after the highest offer.

And for the few people who I've heard say, "he's good but, he's always injured...", I've got this to say...He gets injured cos he's got heart and doesn't back down from anyone. He's not afraid to get his nose dirty, many players twice his size, don't have his drive. That's why he gets hurt, he thinks of the team first and himself second.

Not only does he come back, he comes back and IMO, is playing the best hockey I've seen from him in a while. His line is just tearing it up out there. Hat's off to captain "K" and his line. If the Habs don't retire his number when he retires, I for one will be very upset. A true athelete and a testament to what our Canadian players, use to be about.

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Guest Un_Lavalois
I don't know if this video has been posted yet...

Classy guy!8)

Woa, ALL the goals are tying of tie breaking goals, they are all important (in the exception of the Vancouver one...) He's always there when we need him!

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