MONTREAL – While the Habs were busy giving the Coyotes all they could handle, Saku Koivu had a date with destiny and Maurice “Rocket” Richard.
With Koivu heading into the season only five assists behind “The Rocket” on the Habs’ all-time list, it was only a matter of time before the Montreal captain would catch the Canadiens’ legendary No. 9. Thanks to his blistering start to the season alongside newly-acquired winger Alex Tanguay and Guillaume Latendresse, Koivu needed only five games to surpass Richard.
“It reminds me that I’ve been here for a while and that I’m getting older,” smiled Koivu, who picked up a goal and a pair of assists against the Coyotes. “It’s always an incredible honor to be mentioned in the same breath as such a legendary player who is so much a part of the Montreal Canadiens.”
Playing in his 732nd game in a Canadiens uniform, Koivu began the night with 420 assists, only one back of Richard. After setting up Tanguay for his first of the night in the opening period, Koivu set the table for his winger again in the middle frame to eclipse Richard’s mark of 421 helpers set over the course of “The Rocket’s” brilliant 978-game career, all spent with the Habs.
The milestone may be the first of many for Koivu this season, with his red-hot line combining for six points on the night.
“Our line is really clicking right now and creating a lot of chances,” said Koivu, who has eight points on the season, including six assists. “After not seeing much action during the preseason, I think Alex and I are starting to find our rhythm. We’re glad to be contributing the way we are and to add another two points in the standings.”
Next up for Koivu on the all-time assist list is Yvan Cournoyer, who sits at No. 6 with 435 assists. As fast as the “Roadrunner” was in his day, the way Koivu is breathing down his neck, it may not be too long before Saku catches him.