What is there to say here? People outside Minnesota think Mikko Koivu is overpaid, soft, a defensive forward, a third line center at best. Heck, some people inside Minnesota think those things. What he is, it turns out, is the one thing standing between the Minnesota Wild and the bottom tier of the league. If healthy, there are few who can match his ability, and few who can shut him down. If healthy, the Wild would be in the playoffs right now.
You can use all the fancy numbers you want to give reasons why Mikko Koivu doesn't deserve this or that. But if you ask the guys that matter... the players in the locker room, the guys he plays against, the GMs and coaches, he is a force to reckon with, and not someone to be brushed off.
In the best league in the world, is he ever going to be the best player in the game? Nope. But he is the best player on the Minnesota Wild, and as he goes, so goes the team. That is leadership defined.
#9 / Center / Minnesota Wild
Mar 12, 1983
|2011 - Mikko Koivu||55||12||32||44||10||28||2||1||2||129|
Nathan - This is actually pretty funny. Some guys you don't need to spend much time evaluating their season and/or play. .8 ppg. They were 8-16-3 with Koivu out, but were 27-20-8 when he was playing . Players who take the ice with him have a higher ppg than when they are with anyone else. Etc, etc, etc. Mikko leads and makes everyone around him better. His only drawback is that he needs to stay healthy. That is a major problem with him right now.
Final Grade: B+ (for missing 27 games)
Bryan - Ah, the Kaptain. Oh he of the constant talk of undeserved contracts, trade rumors, and debate of his captaincy. What the guy brings to the Wild is undeniable. He gets hurt, the team falls apart. We've seen it too many times for it to be denied any longer. People who doubt his ability to lead the team don't see him around the team. They all say it is his team. He leads by example, and leads vocally. Maybe not in public, but certainly in private.
Say what you want about his contract, about him as a player, but every GM in the league would have signed him to the same contract, and if he played on big market team, he would be a superstar. He makes people around him better, and he is the lifeblood of this team.
Of course, none of that matters when giving out grades. What he needs to do is stay healthy. Always a different injury, but always an injury. He is an 80 point player, and the Wild desperately need him to be that. Once he does that, the questions will stop.
Jesse - I would give Mikko an A, but the injuries were part of the season. He may have rushed his return to help save the season, and the return to the IR finished off any type of hope the season had. I know competitors want to play, but Koivu needs to keep in mind his long-term health and the long-term health of the franchise. If sitting for one more week (3 games) meant Koivu was completely ready to return, it would have been worth it.
JS - If we look at this year's injuries as a game of Jenga in which each injury meant a removed piece, Mikko Koivu was that last Jenga piece you remove before the whole thing collapses. He would have had a great year had he been able to go the full 82 games. At the time of his first injury, he was in the midst of a run in which he had scored 18 points in 15 games and had a 9 game scoring ''streak'' separated by the injury. He had found his stride, he, Heatley and Setoguchi/Latendresse were doing great. Despite the many injuries the Wild had suffered, they were hanging on to the top on the standings.
Then, the piece was removed, and the Jenga tower tumbled down Mount Everest and ended up in the Underworld. The Wild had a 82-game pace good for dead last in the league without Koivu and a playoff pace with him. I can't think of a player whose absence would be as devastating to his team. Sidney Crosby may be the best player in the world, but the Pens did just fine without him.
Granted, Koivu wasn't the only player missing. Granted, take 4 of the top 6 players from any team for an extended period and they'll fall, but there's a very visible difference in the way the Wild play with and without Koivu. No one had the ability to step up and take the wheel in his place, although Kyle Brodziak made a heroic effort. Koivu did end up with his lowest point per game average since 2007-2008, but having suffered 3 different injuries in the year threw his game off, I reckon.
Also, +10 for the season is pretty telling, especially when you look at the rest of the team's +/-. 2007-2008, by the way, was the year Mattias Ohlund played Lumberjack with Koivu's leg. Mikko needs to find a way to stay healthy, get tougher and get ready for next season, when his team will need him more than ever as a mentor to a certain Finnish messiah.