I get that hockey is a business. I touched on that before. I get that as such, Gainey let Koivu go. I get that once he was a free agent, Koivu had the right to sign with whoever he wanted to sign with.
But damnit, I’m still sad to see Koivu go to the Ducks.
Anyone who has read my profile knows that Koivu is special for me. For most of my life, Koivu was the only Hab I could name. I knew him because well, he was he captain of the Canadiens and his face was plastered on the back of the Bell Centre. Sad, perhaps, but the point is, I knew him before I knew about any other Hab. I knew about him before I knew about Maurice Richard, before Guy Lafleur, before Patrick Roy. Saku was literally not only the Montreal Canadiens, but he was hockey. That was the limit of my hockey knowledge: There was a guy called Saku Koivu from some country in Scandinavia and he played hockey for the Montreal Canadiens.
I have vague memories of hearing about him coming back after having cancer. I remember feeling a great deal of indignation when I heard that he “was whacked in the eye accidently-on-purpose” even who I had no idea what really happened (I still maintain a hate for the Carolina Hurricanes because of that incident that I never witnessed).
When I finally started watching the Habs I immediately asked which one was Saku (if I remember correctly, nobody could answer that as he wasn’t playing in the first couple of games against the Bruins two years ago). Saku was the first guy who I actually learned to pick out when he was on the ice (quite the accomplishment when you consider that I literally got headaches for the first week I watched hockey because I found the action too fast).
To me, Saku has been a great Hab. He hasn’t exactly come at the best time in Canadiens history, but he’s put his heart into the game. He’s been criticized for all the wrong reasons here. “He doesn’t speak French, he’s still small, he doesn’t speak French and oh, he doesn’t speak French.” It’s ridiculous of course, and I’m amazed he’s put up with it all this time. He deserves better and I hope he gets it in Anaheim. I may detest the Dumb Ducks, but I want Koivu to have a good year with them. I want the Ducks fans to cheer for him and I hope they get to see what a great player he can be.
Thanks – or I guess I should say “Kiitos” – for everything you’ve done here, Saku! We’ll miss you a lot.