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Farewell Saku

Eighteen years, 1,124 games, 255 goals and 832 points, but Saku Koivu will be remembered for so much more than that.

Jeff Gross

Saku Koivu has officially announced his retirement today. 

Koivu was always one of my favorite players. He spent most of his career as a Montreal Canadiens player, which as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan made him someone I watched more than not. He should have been the enemy. But godd--- is it hard to hate Koivu.

He wasn't big. He wasn't ever really projected to be the most skilled. He wasn't the fastest. But Koivu went at every puck with the same ferocity and workrate that that was so inspiring. He always played a hard, ""blue collar" game that was appealing.

While he was an Anaheim Ducks player in recent seasons, I will probably remember him best as a Hab. He battled through injuries seemingly every season but still played hard, still put his team on his back, still led them as a captain. Whether it was his knee, or his shoulder, or cancer, Koivu battled back and made the Canadiens better for it. His cancer work for Montreal after his ordeals are the stuff of legend, and you'll likely read more about it now than ever before.

In Anaheim, he joined his buddy Teemu Selanne. They could not be more opposite in terms of play style or personality, but they are countrymen. They wanted to play together at least once, they wanted to win a Stanley Cup.

It is unfortunate they never had the chance to lift the Cup together. That would likely have been my most favorite moment in all of hockeydom forever and ever. As it stands, the last visit the Ducks paid to Montreal early last season will always stay with me.

Anaheim lost the game, but Boudreau gave Koivu his moment and played him for about an entire minute. The fans in Montreal (probably the best fans in the league if you're asking me frankly) gave him a standing ovation that entire time. 

I wish he had closed out his career without the head injury he suffered as a Ducks player (in the game in Columbus). But I'll never, ever forget watching him and loving every second of it. Koivu was one of my favorite hockey players, I wish him the very best.