After last season, it had been a while that the cries for a change were getting louder in Montreal. And I thought that a major change was certainly in order.
As July 1st came and went, I had (at first) felt some “doom and gloom” because I didn’t like the Gomez deal. And then with the UFAs that were signed, I felt a new optimism.
I somewhat knew that you (Saku) were not coming back to Montreal, and somehow that was ok.
But as a rumour broke about a slight chance that you (Saku) would return to Montreal.. I started thinking, not just about hockey, but about who you are and how you carried yourself as the captain and the face of the Montreal Canadiens.
I found myself caught in a little nostalgia to be honest, but aside from that, I couldn’t deny the fact that you carried yourself so well in spite of everything. In spite of the injuries that could have ended your career. In spite of the Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that certainly would have finished others….. you pushed on, with endless class and a commitment to your team.
I fully believe you gave %100 every time you hit the ice. Through the great highs and great lows of your time in the Montreal Canadiens organisation…. you gave it %100.
Through all kinds of media crap, language issues that in my opinion, you were a target of circumstance… you gave it %100.
Saku, you have been a model player, a model captain and a model citizen with the charity work you have done.
Today, your signing in Anaheim signals the true end of an era for the Canadiens. After the news broke, it started sinking in for me. That the face of the team I’ve loved for many years is no longer a member of the team.
I will truely miss you. I have spent many many hours cheering you and your linemates on over the years… sharing the highs and the lows of your career with the Montreal Canadiens.
I wish only the very best for you and your family and I do infact wish you all the success in Anaheim. I will continue to follow your play as much as I can.
The Anaheim Ducks know who and what they are getting in your signing… to quote Adam Brady on the Ducks blog:
“In Koivu, the Ducks are getting so much. They’re getting a terrific playmaker, a guy who scored more than 50 points each of the last six seasons, someone who takes pride in his defense as well. Just as importantly, they’re getting a born leader who had one of the toughest jobs in hockey — captain of the Montreal Canadiens — for the last decade, as long as anyone in the 100-year history of the team.”
(Ducks blog here)
And I really can’t help but feeling a little bit of … “don’t know what you got, until it’s gone”.
You will be missed. I hope you get another 8 to 10 minute standing ovation if/when you play in Montreal this year. You deserve it.