Mikko Koivu was not expected to return to the Minnesota Wild next season. It was simply a matter of when the hockey team would make the end of his longtime tenure with the club official, and it happened Friday morning in a statement from General Manager Bill Guerin.
"Mikko Koivu was a true leader both on and off the ice during his 15-year career with the Wild. From being drafted sixth overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, making his NHL debut on Nov. 11, 2005, being named the team's first full-time captain on Oct. 20, 2009 and wearing the 'C' for the last 11 seasons to becoming the first player to play all 1,000 NHL games with Minnesota on Dec. 1, 2019, Mikko's legacy will live on forever in our organization.
"His hard work, dedication and team-first mentality will be extremely difficult to replace in our lineup. Off the ice, Mikko's impact in the State of Hockey was immeasurable as he went out of his way to make a positive impact on so many people in our community, including his charitable contributions to Children's Minnesota.We thank Mikko for everything he has done for our organization and wish him and his family the best in the future."
The end of the Koivu era is the latest move in a flurry of decisions made by Guerin.
Just in the last week and change Guerin has acquired ex-Gopher star Nick Bjugstad, signed defenseman Jonas Brodin to a contract extension, dealt 35-year-old Eric Staal to Buffalo for 30-year-old Marcus Johansson, and rumors continue to circulate about a possible Matt Dumba trade.