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Ducks Sign Koivu to Two-Year Contract

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks have signed center Saku Koivu to a two-year contract. Per club policy, no financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

Koivu, 35 (11/23/74), appeared in his first season with Anaheim in 2009-10, scoring 19-33=52 points with a career-high +14 rating in 71 contests. He eclipsed the 50-point mark for the seventh consecutive season, while also ranking tied for 10th in the NHL in game-winning goals (6). Among team leaders, the 5-10, 178-pound center ranked fourth in both assists and points, and led the club in plus/minus and faceoff percentage (51.4%). He scored his 200th career NHL goal on Jan. 5 vs. Detroit and appeared in his 800th career NHL game on Oct. 21 vs. Dallas. Koivu appeared in his fourth career Olympic Winter Games as a member of Team Finland in 2010 at Vancouver, winning the bronze medal. With Finnish teammates Jere Lehtinen and Ville Peltonen, he earned a share of the all-time Olympic men’s hockey record for career medals with four (also silver in 2006 & bronze in 1994 and 1998).

A native of Turku, Finland, Koivu is a veteran of 14 NHL seasons, 13 of which were played with the Montreal Canadiens. In 863 career NHL games, he has scored 210-483=693 points with 659 PIM and a +4 rating. He served as the Canadiens’ team captain for 10 years (1999-2009), tied for the longest serving captain in Montreal’s 100-year history (also Jean Beliveau). Koivu is a two-time All-Star, having been named to the 1998 and 2003 All-Star Games. He has also appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on eight occasions, earning 16-32=48 points in 54 contests.

Selected by Montreal in the first round (21st overall) of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Koivu won the Bill Masterton Trophy following the 2001-02 season, presented annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. This honor followed his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as he returned to the ice just seven months after he was diagnosed in September 2001. He helped Montreal advance to the Conference Semifinals that season, appearing in all 12 of the Canadiens’ postseason contests, earning 4-6=10 points. Koivu has also been honored with the 2007 King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his work with the Saku Koivu Foundation, formed in 2002 to help raise funds for cancer-fighting equipment. The King Clancy Trophy is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to his community.

Koivu spoke from Finland to media via conference call Friday afternoon:

I’m relieved and extremely happy to be back in Anaheim. It was my first year last year after 13-14 years in Montreal. It took me awhile to get going. In the second half, that was when I enjoyed it and wanted to be back. Here we are. I’m happy things worked out.

On negotiations with Anaheim
The negotiations went on for a couple of days. It took a bit longer than we expected. We got to closer to the free agent line there and then we decided that we wanted see what the market was all about. We did get some offers. The package and everything that Anaheim had to offer was by far the best option for me and my family, both the hockey side and off the ice. Financially it wasn’t the best offer, but for us it was the best fit.

On Teemu Selanne
We spoke once a day and a couple of times a day about the situation and what was going on. I spoke to him last night after I signed. He was happy about it. He didn’t know what was going to happen. He said in the Finnish media that whatever happens with me and if I’m back in Anaheim, it would have an effect. In this case, I hope it’s going to be a positive effect and we’ll see him back. I haven’t spoken to him today. We all know if we get Teemu back, obviously that is going to make our team a lot stronger. If he’s going to be there or not in training, I can’t say yes or no. Hopefully having Lydman and me on the team is going make that little push we need to get him back.

As far as I know and the times we’ve spoken, we spent quite a bit of time together after the season in California, I know that Teemu is working out already. I know that he has been doing that since coming to Finland. His mindset is he’s going to play, if that is going to happen, I don’t know. He wants to be in top shape and doing everything to be in that just in case if he’s going to continue playing.

On the Ducks going forward
If we go back on what happened last year, we call know the reason we didn’t make the playoffs was the first 20-25 games and the way we played. We had a lot of new faces. For a lot of guys, it took longer to get attached than we expected. Losing Scott (Niedermayer) is a huge hit. You can’t replace a guy like that. We all know that. At the same time, it’s a team sport. I’m sure Bob (Murray) is doing his best to make us stronger to go into next season. Even if you lose a player like Scott, when you look at the core group and the younger guys we have on the team, Getzlaf, Perry and Bobby Ryan, who we hope will be back, you can build a team around guys like that. I’m confident in the way we played in the second half, the last 25-30 games. We’re a team that can be extremely competitive. It’s not going to be easy, but with the young guys that we have and adding myself, Lydman and hopefully Teemu, I think we’re going to have a group of guys that can really be a good team and be competitive. That has to start from day one and we can’t have the start that we did last year in order to make the playoffs and have a successful year.

On if Lydman’s signing had an effect on his re-signing
No. The first time I saw that Toni signed was on TV here back home. I know him from the national team. He’s going to help and bring a lot of different elements to our team. I didn’t have any effect or role on that signing. Having him really didn’t have an effect in if I was coming back.

On Toni Lydman
I’ve played with Toni a few times with Team Finland at the Olympics, the Worlds and the World Cup. You can put him on the power play and he plays a lot of PK. Defensively, he’s good, but he can also bring a lot of things offensively. He’s not really a flashy guy, but he gets the job done extremely well. He’s very consistent. There isn’t really a thing he can’t do. He’s been around for quite a bit of time and played in a lot of different competition. He brings the experience that we lose with Scott.

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