While Minnesota legend Mikko Koivu’s time has finished with the Wild, his playing career isn’t complete just yet.
Today, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they have signed Koivu to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
Blue Jackets management spoke very highly of the centerman in their official announcement of the signing.
“Koivu has been a very consistent, productive two-way player in the National Hockey League for many years,” said club General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen. “He is a great leader, has impeccable character and will be a valuable addition to our young team. We are very excited that he has chosen to continue his career as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.”
Koivu is coming off a season in which he tallied 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) for the Wild that saw consistency in spurts, but nothing major over the long haul.
And while he seems to have taken a step back from his former self on the ice, that aforementioned experience and mentorship would be a great addition for a Columbus squad who is looking to raise themselves in the ranks of multiple juggernauts in Metropolitan division.
Sometimes you need those “glue-guys” when trying to take your franchise to the next level, who can simply bring all things together, and Columbus may have just found theirs in Koivu.
But as he begins this next chapter, we have to take a look back at his admirable body of work that was recorded for the Wild.
As the sixth-overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, he logged a record-setting 15-year stint with the home team that truly speaks for itself. He is Minnesota’s all-time leader in games played (1028), points (709) and assists (504) amongst other stats. And while the statistical records are truly remarkable, his service and long-term dedication to the club is something that is rarely seen anymore in the culture of sports. 15 years with one club is almost unheard of, these days.
His best statistical season with the franchise came in the 2009-10 campaign, recording 71 points on 22 goals with 49 assists. And while the point production over time gradually fell, he continued to be a candidate for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is awarded to the Top Defensive Forward in the league on a consistent basis, reaching as far as third in voting for the 2016-17 season.
Koivu was announced as club’s first ever full-time captain all the way back in October of 2009 and held that honor all the way until the end of his tenure with the Wild.
Seeing Koivu in a different sweater at the beginning of next season will indeed be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s always said that all great things must come to an end.
From all of us at the Wilderness, thank you, Mikko!