Photo credit: Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
If you wrote up a top ten list of the most intense players in Minnesota Wild history, Mikko Koivu
would probably rank first, second and fourth (Wes Walz gets in there somewhere). On the ice and in the locker room, Koivu takes hockey seriously and he has one goal: to win as many hockey games as possible.
Hockey is an important part of Koivu's live, no question. Yet, as one of the longest-tenured Wild players, and one that will be around for many years to come, Koivu wants to make his mark in the Twin Cities community, not just by winning hockey games.
The first major beneficiary of Koivu's charitable donations is Children's Hospital in St. Paul, where Koivu is sponsoring two private patient rooms in the new Neuroscience and Epilepsy Center.
The rooms are decked out with Minnesota Wild and Koivu memorabilia, photos, posters and collectibles. Of course, we should probably mention the X-Box as well, since that garnered plenty of attention from youngsters attending the unveiling of the first room on Friday afternoon with Koivu as the main tour guide.
"It's the first time that I walked in and it was all finished," said a smiling Koivu who had just walked through the finished room with a handful of children. "It looks very nice. Everything with the colors and how big it is and with the view…Everything about it. I'm very impressed and very happy to be a part of this."
And the kids reaction was even better.
"They were excited about it, about the Wild stuff...and it's got an X-Box, so they were pretty excited about that."
Through the Wild's longtime support of Children's and their initiatives, Koivu and many of his teammates have walked the halls and rooms to visit children stricken with cancer and other serious illnesses. On a recent tour, he wanted to do something more than just visit and decided to sponsor two rooms.
"The charity that we do back in Finland is for the kids," explained the Wild captain. "Everybody is different, but it's just something that I've always wanted to do. I was here last Christmas and had a chance to come up with this."
"I'm very excited about it. I know we do a lot of charity with the team, but just to create something of my own has always been kind of a dream."
The room that Koivu showcased on Friday is the only room on the floor that is completed. There will be another one coming soon, but there is a lot more work to be done. Besides giving his time and money to the project, he also wants to raise awareness so others join in his mission to provide the best for the young patients that will utilize the facility.
"It would be nice to have more, I don't know, athletes or people around the Twin Cities to come in and support this thing," he said. "I think it would be great. I know Children's Hospital would love that. I think it's all for a good cause and good for the hospital and good for the kids. I would like to see this whole floor being done in a year or so."
Until then, Koivu has a job to do, which is win games. But you can be sure he will be finding time to visit kids, and check up on the progress of the new wing.
If you’d like to join Koivu in his spirit of generosity, please consider making a gift to Children’s by contacting Jennifer Peterson at our Foundation by calling 612-813-7075.