The other night the Anaheim Ducks came to Montreal to face the Canadiens, it was an exciting game where the home team won it 4-1 in front of their fans. Winning is always a good thing in Montreal, but this night was extra special it was the return of the Canadiens former Captain, Saku Koivu. It was Koivus first game in Montreal since 2011 when the Ducks beat the Habs 4-3.
The Hab fans treated him, as they should have, they treated him magnificently and properly. They cheered him and his name at the beginning of the game, through out the game and at the end of the game when the final seconds were running off the clock. He was given the third star and skated out onto the ice where all the fans chanted Saku, Saku, Saku! Personally I think he should have been the first star, so he could have been on the ice longer to embrace the fans. Francis Bouillon was on the Habs bench applauding his former team when he was on the ice for the third star.
This could be the last time Canadiens fans will see Koivu play in Montreal, there is speculation going around that the 38 year old could be playing in his last NHL season. If that is true, the way the fans treated him the other night was a great send off into his retirement.
Koivu is 10th all-time in points for the Montreal Canadiens with 191 goals and 641 points in 792 games. The question is how will you remember Saku Koivu as a Hab? On the negative side people will look at him as the long time captain who never won a cup, or the fact that he never had the greatest line mates to make a real impact, or the fact you could make an argument that he was the best second line center the team had. However that’s only some of the few critics.
On the positive side (which always out does the negative) people will remember him as the player who played 100% of the time for the team with all the heart and soul he could muster. He was the player who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and expected to miss the whole 2001-02 season and managed to come back for the 80th game of the season to an 8-minute standing ovation, he helped the Hbas make the playoffs and beat the Boston Bruins in the first round that year. He was the man who helped raise funds for the Montreal General hospital to get a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner, he needed 8 million dollars to beraised and he got it.
He is the player who loved Montreal and promoted his love for the city when many people didn’t want to come here. He went through his fair share of crap with the fact he didn’t speak French, but it never shook him off his game. Although he never won a Stanley Cup for the city of Montreal (which we all know he did everything he could for that goal) he won the hearts of millions of Hab fans and the reaction he got Thursday night proved that. He was an All-Star in a time where the team was losing popularity and didn’t have many stars, he was with the team when the popularity came back and every game started to sell out.
My memories off him include mane game winning goals, including one in an overtime game against the lightning after the Habs blew a 2-0 lead, or the game where the Canadiens came back from 5-0 (I was fortunate to be there too) and he scored the shootout goal that completed the comeback and won the game. I still remember him standing arms up over Alex Kovalev when the fifth goal was scored; it was almost like Koivu was part of the crowd everyone’s arms were in the air!
Stanley Cup, or no Stanley Cup he is a Montreal Canadien for life and he will never lose that privilege no matter what some critics may say. He was a great player who deserves the respect of all the fans, I hope he has a few more seasons left in the tank, but if he doesn’t I just want to take this chance and thank Saku Koivu for all the great memories you gave us in Montreal, thank you very much Saku!
Feel free to share your memories of Saku in the comment box below!