After 13 tough years in Montreal where Saku Koivu had to play the role of No. 1 centre, he will finally find himself in a position to thrive on the Anaheim Ducks.
Not only will he have a top-flight winger to work with in Teemu Selanne, one with which he already has a good measure of chemistry after their international success together, but Koivu will benefit from the attention opposing coaches are forced to give the potent top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.
Koivu was always the centre of attention in Montreal, a role he was more or less suited for, and he still had his fair share of success. But consistently playing against the opposing No. 2 defence pair in Anaheim will allow Koivu to really shine, especially since he'll be passing to an accomplished finisher in Selanne, something he never really had in Montreal.
Yes, Koivu formed a great pairing with Mark Recchi, but even at his advanced age Selanne remains more of a pure goal scorer than Recchi ever was.
I sincerely hope Koivu lights it up in Anaheim this year, and I believe he will, so he can prove to the league just how talented and gutsy a player he really is. Accepting a one-year, $3.25 million deal had to be a tough pill to swallow for an intensely proud man, but I believe that contract will simply serve as added motivation for him.
I have trouble understanding why Bob Gainey couldn't bring Koivu back at that price, or why he didn't even make a courtesy offer. That's a debate which will rage all summer, I'm sure, and rightfully so because it was an unglorious way to say goodbye to a player that had a major impact on this once glorious franchise.
All the best Saku. For all the crap you had to deal with over your time in Montreal despite all the great things you accomplished on and especially off the ice, I feel you've left an indelible mark on this city and you are owed a great debt of gratitude.