Mikko Koivu forever will be linked to the Minnesota Wild, but his time with the franchise has come to an end. The team made that official on Friday by announcing it would not re-sign the 37-year-old after 15 seasons.
It had been assumed that Koivu wouldn’t return — his contract expired after the season — and Michael Russo of the Athletic recently reported that Koivu had been informed by general manager Bill Guerin that his time with the Wild was finished. But, as recently as his call with reporters on Wednesday to discuss the Eric Staal trade, Guerin would not comment on Koivu’s status. That changed Friday as the Wild released a three-paragraph statement from Guerin. “Mikko’s legacy will live on forever in our organization,” Guerin said. ” … We thank Mikko for everything he has done for our organization and wish him and his family the best in the future.”
Koivu, the sixth-overall pick by Minnesota in the 2001 draft, will depart the Wild having served as the team’s captain for the past 11 seasons and becoming the first player in franchise history to play all 1,000 games as a member of the Wild. Koivu appeared in 1,028 games with the team, scoring 205 goals with 504 assists and 709 points.
The #mnwild announced the team will not re-sign Mikko Koivu for the upcoming season.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) September 18, 2020
Koivu is the all-time franchise leader in games played, assists, points, plus-minus (plus-70) and shots (2,270). His best statistical season came in 2009-10 when he established career-highs with 22 goals, 49 assists and 71 points. An excellent two-way player during the prime of his career, Koivu finished third in voting for the Selke Trophy in 2016-17. The award goes to the forward voted as the best to excel in the defensive aspects of the game.
There was some thought that Koivu’s time with the Wild might be done after he had 14 goals and 45 points in the 2017-18 season, but Chuck Fletcher, the Wild’s GM at the time, signed Koivu to a two-year, $11 million deal. He dropped to eight goals and 29 points in only 48 games in 2018-19 and was a minus player (minus-2) for only the third time in 14 seasons. This past season, Koivu had only four goals and 21 points in 55 games and was demoted to a spot on the fourth line. Koivu, who had long been the Wild’s top center, seemed to embrace his new role.
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) September 18, 2020
Guerin, though, has made it clear that he wants to change things with the Wild both on and off the ice and parting company with Koivu is part of that process. Because former coach Jacques Lemaire rotated captains during his time in Minnesota, Koivu became the Wild’s first full-time captain when he assumed the role under former coach Todd Richards in 2009.