Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Captain K should thrive in the O.C.

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.

9 comments:

Matt said...

amen, brother. always will be my favourite player for more reasons than his skill which was never brought to light hopefully until this now.
i dont see how saku can be seen as the component that that needed ridding on this team. no one else gave as much as saku did on the ice at all times.
small man, giant heart.

to be honest, i lost some respect for bob this offseason. he seems to be making change for the sake of change. not bashing any players he signed, but surely koivu could have been brought back at 3 million. but he chose to pick no show kovalev and offer him the captaincy over the underrated koivu.

sad way to see him go, i'll tell ya.

Matt

Arjun said...

Best move for Saku. Minnesota would have been difficult, with his brother, and he realized that. This way, he's out of the spotlight, and has great weather. He's going to take his kids to Disneyland and then the beach and they won't miss Montreal so much. I hope they like tacos and Thai food. Both of which are awesome in the OC.

TK said...

Well said Arp,
I can't imagine a better fit for Saku than on this Anaheim team. I expect him to play some inspired hockey next year, away from the spotlight in Montreal and all the responsibilities that accompany being the captain of the Canadiens.

It is a shame that Gainey didn't make a great effort to keep him in town, but now Koivu has a legitimate shot at playoff success.

I may have a new favorite team.
That's blasphemy I know... perhaps my loyalty has been fanned by the shifting winds of allegiances in professional sport. Or perhaps I am just a big Koivu fan.

Go Ducks
-TK

Ted said...

I can't help but feel somewhat sad for the Montreal fans at this news. In time even the fans and press who took every opportunity to point out what little frailties he had, will come to realize what an enormous upside he brought with him.

I only wish him the best and though I will be a die hard fan of the Habs until my last breath, this year I will also cheer for one other team.

Go Ducks Go!!!!!

Sliver24 said...

Bonne chance Saku! Oh wait, I'd better translate that in case he reads this...

Seriously though, I think this will be good for Saku but I think he may also end up missing the spotlight a little bit.

I also think that this will be good for the team. Gainey obviously felt that he needed to completely clean house in the leadership of this team after the debacle of last season. Something just wasn't working with the off-ice chemistry on the team.

Keeping the guy that has worn the 'C' for a decade would make it much more difficult for incoming players to establish their own leadership identities on the team. It would be second nature for them to defer to such an established leader.

In any case I don't rule out the possibility that Bob and Saku came to a mutual agreement before July 1st that it would be best for Koivu to just move on.

It must have been a wake-up call to have to sign at such a reduced rate - for Saku and for some of his boosters here in MTL. While I certainly never felt he was treated fairly by certain segments of Habs fans, I also felt that many people gave him more credit than he was due. It seems the rest of the league agrees with that assessment.

One thing that truly baffles me though: At 34 years old this was Saku's (and Anaheim's) last chance to sign a contract that wouldn't fall under the "mandatory" cap hit involved in signing a 35 year old player. It looks like Saku's in for a string of one-year contracts over the remainder of his career. Not sure if that was an oversight on the part of his agent or simply the reality of having a tough time getting a contract.

Then again, maybe he just really wanted to play in Anaheim and felt like he's already got enough money.

Sliver24

PS. Hey TK, it sounds like maybe you've spent a little too much time in Toronto. Pretty soon you'll be commenting on how fun the Leafs are to watch...

pfhabs said...

Sliver24:

-you're suffering from the same delusion as so many other Gainey apologists

-the "room needed to be cleaned out of its current leadership"

1) professional athletes with families are at home being fathers and husbands not at clubs counting the # of drinks junior is drinking, nor if the hard body he's trying to score with is a puck bunny or a hooker...its not their role nor that of single teammates keeping their noses clean. if Gainey and management could not control the young punks how could their teammates...Saku couldn't bench anyone, nor cut their ice time nor trade them nor send them to Hamilton. blaming him for not showing leadership nor being a good captain is ludicrous.

the days of Nilan and Ferguson and Messier are over...you cannot threaten any teammate because they are all millionaires and don't give a damn about your ethics and codes of conduct. if inclined they'll do what they want to.

2. Bob cleaned out the room ? did he really ? seems to me the K brothers, Hamrlik and Price are still there...he cleaned nada. he swept the dirt under the carpet and let go some true leaders. Gainey has placed the blame on others when clearly and ultimately its his only to bear. sorry Sliver24 cannot agree in the least

-for all other posts you're starting to see the Gainey I've seen since january. enjoy, he's not the same guy he was as Captain.

-for myself I see myself cheering for Higgins, Komaserik and Koivu regardless of the teams they play for and will do so even when they play the CH. if that bothers anyone tant pis (too bad)

pfhabs said...

Sliver24:

re the 1 year contract comment: " Not sure if that was an oversight on the part of his agent or simply the reality of having a tough time getting a contract."

-it was neither, Saku and his family decided to sign for 1 year only...as he explained today in his press conference they are moving to such a completely different hockey market and environment he didn't want to tie himself down nor the team long term to something he might not be happy with. he continued to say that after the year if they like it they'd stay longer.

btw: Minnesota, New Jersey were also interested and he went with the club they thought had the best chance of winning the Cup. he had options; i.e., no problem getting a contract

as for the amount why is $3.25M shabby for a second line centre ?because Bob is giving people outrageous sums to play in MTL?

-you missed the boat big time on this one. perhaps you'll appreciate what we had when Pleks pulls his I played like a girl act again

pmk said...

guess I should put the anahiem game aside for you hey TK?

SRS said...

Selanne said he's out after next year as well. (another reason he may not have committed to longer) I'm on board. Loved the Ducks last season... love them even more now. Losing Prongo will hurt. Beauchemin, not so much. If Hiller can be as good as he was in the playoffs and Ryan/Perry/Getz can improve, look out people. That's a team to be reckoned with.
SRS