30
December
2019

row pucks away and guys did a great jo

MONTREAL -- Injuries, a battle with cancer and struggles to make the playoffs marked his 13 years in Montreal, but for the generation of fans who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, Saku Koivu was the face of the Canadiens. Brett Favre Jersey . The memories flooded back Wednesday when the gifted and dauntless centre announced his retirement after 18 NHL seasons, including 10 years as the Canadiens captain. The 39-year-old played his final five seasons with the Anaheim Ducks skating alongside fellow Finnish great Teemu Selanne, but his career will mostly be remembered for the great highs and devastating lows he experienced in Montreal. "Looking back at my 22 years of pro hockey, first in Finland and then in the NHL, I feel truly blessed and fulfilled," Koivu said in a statement released through the NHL Players Association. "I have been contemplating retirement for quite some time and am very confident in my decision at this time and place." The Turku, Finland native played 1,124 NHL games and had 255 goals and 577 assists. He competed at four Olympics, two World Cups and seven IIHF world championships, winning a gold medal for Finland in 1995. The Canadiens, the Ducks and even rival clubs like the Ottawa Senators sent out tweets congratulating Koivu on his career. But his NHL figures are modest considering what he may have produced had his career not been marred by a succession of knee injuries, his 2001-02 bout with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and a horrific eye injury in 2006 that left him with restricted peripheral vision. And his career may have been much different had he landed in Montreal at any other time but the fall of 1995. Drafted 21st overall in 1993 on advice from scout J.C. Tremblay, Koivu stayed two seasons with TPS Turku before jumping to the NHL. Less than two weeks into his rookie campaign, general manager Serge Savard and coach Jacques Demers were fired and replaced by an inexperienced management team led by GM Rejean Houle and coach Mario Tremblay. In December, Tremblay left Patrick Roy in the net for nine goals in a 12-1 loss to Detroit and the superstar goalie demanded a trade. He and captain Mike Keane were sent to Colorado a few days later in one of the worst trades in Canadiens history. The former dynasty, which Savard had at least maintained as a contender with Stanley Cups wins in 1986 and 1993, went into a downward spiral that took a decade to reverse. Later that same season, the Canadiens moved out of the historic Montreal Forum into their new home, then called the Molson Centre. One of the bright spots in that era was Koivu, the plucky little centre whose leadership qualities were evident from his earliest years. In only his second season, Koivu was among the league scoring leaders with 13 goals and 25 assists in early December when he suffered the first of his serious knee injuries. On Sept. 30, 1999, he succeeded Vincent Damphousse to become the first European captain in Canadiens history. The big blow came just before training camp in 2001, when cancer was found in his abdomen. Remarkably, he was able to return near the end of the regular season. The thundering ovation when he stepped onto the ice for the first time since his illness went on and on, and Koivu was visible moved. Then he sealed the bond he had forged with Bell Centre fans by not only playing in all 12 playoff games that spring, but sharing the team lead with 10 post-season points. He was given the 2002 Masterton Trophy for dedication, sportsmanship and perseverance, and followed that by playing all 82 games in 2002-03, collecting a career-high 71 points. The cancer moved him to start the Saku Koivu foundation, which raised $8 million for a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner for the Montreal General Hospital. In 2007, he got the King Clancy award for his humanitarian efforts. "My time in Montreal was special beyond playing hockey," Koivu added in his statement. "Thank you to the fans and lovely people of Montreal for your support and love, and for providing my family and me with wonderful memories that we will always cherish as well as the immense support during my illness. "Thank you with all my heart to Dr. and Mrs. David Mulder and Dr. and Mrs. Blair Whittemore and the staff at Montreal General Hospital for saving my life." Another setback came in the second round of the 2006 playoffs against Carolina, when he was headed to the net with the puck but the Hurricanes Justin Williams tried to lift his stick and got him square on the left eye instead. He rushed from the ice with blood streaming from the eye and was taken to hospital. But no matter the injury, Koivu kept coming back and playing with the same intensity, even if the knee braces left him without some of the quickness of his early seasons. There were bad times as well. He bristled at criticism for not learning French, which some felt was required of a Canadiens captain at the time, and he was not happy that a photographer sneaked into the hospital to take a picture of his damaged eye. But for most fans, he was a hero. The Canadiens cleaned house after the 2008-09 campaign, and it included letting Koivu go to the Ducks as a free agent. It ended a 10-year tenure as captain, tied for the longest in team history with the legendary Jean Beliveau. Fans had to wait every other year for the Ducks to visit so they could greet him with their "Sa-Ku Sa-Ku" chants. His former teammates took to twitter to comment on his retirement, including defenceman Sheldon Souray, who wrote: "Saku Koivu is a MAN among men. He was an inspiration, a mentor, a friend, and an unbelievable competitor. He showed me what it meant to be a professional in a city that didnt expect anything less than excellence. He set the bar high both on and off the ice and truly showed the world what the word courage meant." Added former Ducks teammate Matt Beleskey: "Saku Koivu, one of the most dedicated and hard working players I have ever had the pleasure to play with. His compete level was outstanding!" Koivu thanked the Turku coach who helped hone his skills, Vladimir Jurzinov, and his agent for most of his career Don Baizley, who died of cancer in June, 2013. As well as the Canadiens, he thanked his parents, his wife Hanna and their two children. He also thanked the Ducks, who opted not to bring him back for a 19th NHL campaign. "I am grateful to them for allowing me to experience NHL hockey in California," Koivu said. "Orange County has truly been a blessing for us." The one thing missing from Koivus career was a Stanley Cup, but he picked up plenty of prizes. He won four Olympic medals, including silver in 2006 in what may have been the most impressive performance of his career, four world championship medals and a World Cup silver medal. Koivu said the seed was planted a year ago when retirement thoughts first cropped into his mind although he still needed all this off-season to make sure it was the right one. "Looking back, my retirement process started a year ago in the summer," Koivu said Wednesday. "It used to be easy to get up and go for a run and get back in shape, skate in August and prepare for camp. But it was the first time in my career where it was like, `Man, its not as easy anymore. Then when we started the season, I found myself asking the question a little too often, `Why am I here? Is this still worth it? Whats the purpose of still playing? You have your family and kids, you miss their activities … obviously you push those thoughts away in the middle of the season and focus on the games, but thats how I felt that I was coming towards the end of my career." Koivu said another contributing factor was the concussion he suffered last November and December when he missed a chunk of the season. Finally, when the Ducks were eliminated by the Kings in Game 7 last spring, Koivu remembers hugging his pal Teemu Selanne who had made it clear it would be his last season. "I said to him, `I feel so privileged that I played with you, and he said, `I feel the same, but your last season is ahead of you," Koivu recalled Selanne saying. "I said, `Teemu, I really feel like this might be it for both of us. And that feeling just grew stronger and stronger throughout the summer." The Ducks decision not to tender Koivu a contract offer after the season also led to Koivus decision to retire but he didnt have any interest of moving his family elsewhere and playing for another team. Looking back on his career, Koivu takes pride in having played so long given how his career and his life was threatened in 2001-02 by cancer. "My first 4-5 years in the league, I had some unfortunate injuries with the shoulder and knees and then at 27, 28 years old going through the cancer and missing almost a complete year … to have played in 1,100-plus games and playing some 10-plus years after all that, it really feels amazing," said Koivu. "I feel so fortunate about it. Had somebody told me that back then I would have said, `Absolutely no way that thats possible. When I first told the doctor after my chemo that I wanted to come back and play that year, he said, `Youre insane. Maybe youre never going to play because we dont know how the treatments and everything will have an effect on you. Being here in 2014, its pretty amazing." Koivu will use this year to simply spend more time with family but says coaching one day in pro hockey is a possibility for him. His wife and him also have to decide whether theyll raise their kids in California or in Finland, a decision they havent taken yet. "Ive always been fascinated about coaching," said Koivu. "But thats too quick right now. Right now its about spending time with the kids and family. Ill be an assistant coach for my son who is eight years old. But Im pretty sure that hockey is going to play some kind of role in my life later on." Will Redmond Jersey .S. Olympic hockey management team have been making what he called "ghost rosters" since August. Jared Veldheer Jersey . - Maynor Figueroa headed in a late goal to give Honduras a 1-1 draw with the United States in an international friendly Tuesday. http://www.custompackersjersey.com/custom-paul-hornung-jersey-large-1072r.html . Pinch-hitter Tommy Medica singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Padres beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in their first home game since Gwynn died of cancer Monday.BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins forechecked aggressively, cleared the puck easily and dominated the Washington Capitals. Tuukka Rask got the 22nd shutout of his career -- probably one of the easiest -- Gregory Campbell and Loui Eriksson scored second-period goals and the Bruins shut down the Capitals 3-0 on Thursday night. "We did a great job of getting on them quickly and not giving them opportunities to make too many plays," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. For the second straight night, the Capitals managed just eight shots in the first two periods, not the kind of offence they need as they try to move into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. So where do they go after being outshot 43-16 by the Bruins? "Up. You cant get much lower than that, I guess," Capitals defenceman Karl Alzner said. "The killer instinct isnt there right now and it needs to be there because we are running out of time." Washington is one point out of the eighth playoff spot with 18 games left. Boston finished the scoring on Brad Marchands empty-net goal with 1:34 left and moved one point behind Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh, which played at San Jose. Rasks NHL-leading sixth shutout of the season came just five days after the Capitals beat him 4-2, also in Boston. But since then Washington is 0-3 and Boston is 3-0. Rask was 0-3-3 against the Capitals in his career, but was rarely challenged on Thursday. Boston didnt even have to worry about Washingtons power play, the second best in the NHL. No penalties were called in the game. "Youre kind of afraid of those guys when they get a power play because theyve got so much firepower and they are so disciplined," Rask said. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby played well but suffered his first loss against the Bruins after winning the first four matchups of his career. "It was frustrating, but its no more frustrating to me than it is to the other guys in the room," Holtby said. "A goalie cant rely on offence. You have no control over that. You control your game and what you can contribute to the team. Dorsey Levens Jersey. " Washington has lost all its games since beating Boston on Saturday for its fourth straight win. It lost to Philadelphia twice, 5-4 in overtime then 6-4 on Wednesday night, before getting blanked by Boston. "We talked about that before the game, how theyre probably going to be a little tired and we need to take advantage of that," Bruins defenceman Matt Bartkowski said. "I think we did a good job of it." Campbell gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 3:05 of the second period when he tipped in Patrice Bergerons shot. Bergeron fired the puck from the top of the left circle and Campbell, standing just to the right of Holtby, deflected it in for his seventh goal of the season and fourth in four games. Eriksson got his seventh at 8:20 after missing one game with an infected heel that he said he sustained at the Winter Olympics in Russia where he played for Sweden. Carl Soderberg passed the puck from behind the net to Eriksson, whose short shot from the left side beat Holtby. That was more than enough for the Bruins, who gave the Capitals little room to operate. "They played last night," Julien said. "It was important for us to get on them physically and make them throw pucks away and guys did a great job." Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 44 goals, had just one shot after scoring two power-play goals on nine shots in Washingtons win in Boston last Saturday. The Capitals took 31 shots in that game, while Holtby stopped 36 of the Bruins 38 shots. NOTES: Washington D Cameron Schilling played after being recalled from Hershey of the AHL on Wednesday. ... Boston D Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter were healthy scratches one day after being acquired. Meszaros came in a trade with Philadelphia and Potter was claimed on waivers from Edmonton. ... Mark Recchi, a forward on the Bruins team that won the 2011 Stanley Cup, dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... Rask played in his 46th game, a new season high. ... G Jaroslav Halak, obtained from Buffalo on Wednesday, did not play for Washington. ' ' '



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