The Ducks have signed center Saku Koivu to a one-year contract extension through the 2012-13 NHL season. Per club policy, no financial terms of the deal were disclosed.
Koivu, 37 (11/23/74), appeared in his third season with Anaheim in 2011-12, scoring 11-27=38 points with a +7 rating and 50 penalty minutes (PIM) in 74 contests. He co-led the team in takeaways (35), ranked second in shifts-per-game (24.5), tied for second in plus/minus and third in assists. The 5-10, 180-pound center led the club in faceoff wins (646) and faceoff percentage (52.4), while ranking fourth among team forwards in time-on-ice (18:07).
“Saku is a character player and someone we really wanted to keep," Ducks Executive VP/GM Bob Murray said. "We need three strong lines next season that can produce, and Saku will be a part of that.”
On Mar. 12, 2002 at Colorado, Koivu played in his 1,000th NHL game. He became the fifth Finnish-born player to reach the milestone, joining Teppo Numminen (1,372), Teemu Selanne (1,341), Jari Kurri (1,251) and Olli Jokinen (1,042). In addition, Koivu was the 33rd European-born player to appear in 1,000 NHL games.
A native of Turku, Finland, Koivu is a veteran of 16 NHL seasons, 13 of which were played with the Montreal Canadiens. In 1012 career NHL games with Anaheim and Montreal, he has scored 236-540=776 points with a +3 rating and 745 PIM. Koivu originally signed a one-year contract with Anaheim on July 8, 2009 and an additional two-year deal on July 1, 2010. He has appeared in 220 career games as a Duck, earning 45-90=135 points with a +13 rating and 122 PIM.
Koivu 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). He 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 nine occasions, earning 17-38=55 points in 60 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 to media via conference call Wednesday afternoon:
I’m really happy about it. For both sides, it’s a positive thing that we got it done at this point. I don’t have to worry about it and think about what is going to happen for next year. From the team’s perspective, getting into the summer and the free agent market, knowing that I am going to be back is probably going to make their plan a little less complicated and a bit easier to approach.
On wanting to return
The one thing that I asked was that either way if I’m included in their plans or not, I would like to hear something from them before the end of May when we go home to Finland. I’ve been in the business long enough and Bob certainly has been in the business long enough, it was more just to be fair and straight forward. When we started talking, things happened fairly quickly and we got it done. I was really pleased with the way things went with the team and Bob Murray.
On being in Anaheim’s plans for next season
I met with him early in the week and I felt they strongly wanted to have me back. That was all before we really started talking about the next year’s deal. I think it was very mutual. I told him that I want to be back. The same thing went with them. Everybody wants to win and at this point in my career, that is the number one priority. Talking with Bob and hearing his plan and also getting a very positive from the ownership, I’m confident that they are going to make a push. When you have a core group of young players as we do, the future looks bright. It’s tough to say at this point, when you miss the playoffs this year. But if I didn’t feel confident about their view and their willingness to make the push, I would have looked somewhere else. It was very clear they want to get a team to make the playoffs and make the push in the springtime.
On possibly looking elsewhere
The one thing for me to really look and see what a team is really going to look like nowadays you have to wait until the end of July-August. You have to build a trust. My trust is 100 percent with Bob Murray. When I sat down with him and he laid down the plan, I’m confident and really optimistic with the moves they hopefully can make. I didn’t need more time to wait and see where this team is going to go.
On whether Teemu Selanne will return
That is a question that all of us, especially Teemu, had to answer quite a number of times. Last year before he signed and when I spoke to him, a lot of times he needs a bit of time off and away from the game. Automatically at one point in late June-early July, he just gets the feeling if he wants to be back or not. You saw this year again, his production and the way he plays. I’m sure he’s going to sit down with his family and see how they feel. We would love to have him back. He was again a huge part of our offense. You cannot replace a player like that. We’ll cross our fingers and see what can happen with him.