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Franchise staple Mikko Koivu won't be returning to Wild next season

By Sarah McLellan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

The Wild won't look the same next season, and not just because of recent roster turnover.

Longtime captain Mikko Koivu will not be back after the team announced Friday it won't re-sign him. Koivu, 37, had been with the organization ever since it drafted him sixth overall in 2001, and through 15 ensuing seasons he assembled the most illustrious career in team history.

"Mikko's legacy will live on forever in our organization," General Manager Bill Guerin said in a statement.

That on-ice legacy started in 2005, when Koivu made his NHL debut, as a rookie out of Turku, Finland. He scored his first goal in just his second game and was the Wild's points leader by 2008-09. After that season, he was appointed the team's first full-time captain.

In 2012, Koivu was named to the All-Star Game, became the Wild's all-time leading scorer in 2014 and had logged the most games by 2016.

A year later, he was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. And just last season, Koivu became the 55th player in NHL history to play his first 1,000 games with the same team. He and brother, Saku, are the sixth set of brothers in NHL history to each skate in 1,000 games.

 

Overall, he is the franchise leader in numerous categories including games (1,028), assists (504), points (709), plus-minus (plus-70), shots (2,270), faceoff wins (10,354) and multipoint games (153).

He's also second in goals (205), third in game-winning goals (33) and sixth in blocked shots (557), contributions that suggest his No. 9 could be the first player jersey to hang from the rafters at Xcel Energy Center.

"His hard work, dedication and team-first mentality will be extremely difficult to replace in our lineup," Guerin said.

But Koivu also made an impact in the community. A father of three, Koivu sponsored two private patient rooms at Children's Minnesota Neuroscience and Epilepsy Center in St. Paul.

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