In 2001 the Minnesota Wild began their second season in the NHL. This same year, 18-year-old Mikko Koivu pulled a green and white jersey over his head as the Minnesota Wild selected him in the sixth round of the NHL draft.
In four short years, he officially began playing in the State of Hockey, with a team as young as him. He tallied 21 points in his debut season. If that wasn’t impressive enough, his stats improved drastically in the 2006-07 season, burying 20 goals and tallying 34 assists. These accomplishments placed him fifth in his team’s stats for points on-season, sitting behind only the popular names of teammates Brian Rolston, Pavol Demitra, Marian Gaborik, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Not bad company to be in, in only his second season in the NHL.
Over the years, this feisty Finn has won over the hearts of Minnesota hockey fans as not only a producer on the team but also a leader. His leadership was recognized by teammates, coaches, and fans alike and, at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, he was named permanent captain – still sporting the “C” today, nearly eight seasons later.
It’s not an uncommon sight to see Wild fans roaming around with the number nine on their jerseys as fans flock to cheer on their Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. Come October, the number of jerseys proudly displaying their captain’s name may see an increase as Koivu recently sealed yet another deal in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
This two-year, $11 million deal will go into effect come the 2018-19 season. Good news for Wild fans as this means at least three more years for Koivu in the State of Hockey.
So what does this mean for Wild fans? Despite Koivu’s age, he is still producing for the team and a major reason for their success. Last season he tallied 18 goals, tied for sixth on the team, 40 assists, second overall on the team, and averaged a +/- of 27, fourth on the team. He also brings the heat in the face-off circle as he finished with a 55.21 faceoff percentage which led him to be fourth on the team in that category as well.
Three seasons is going to come and go faster than Minnesota Wild fans will probably anticipate. If Koivu’s history has shown anything, it’s that this team would be much different without him. He is the Minnesota Wild’s franchise leader in power play points, goals and games played. With at least three more seasons to go, no one knows what kind of records he’ll break.
Age hasn’t seemed to slow Koivu down and as the 2017-2018 regular season kicks off, Wild fans will see their captain take the ice for yet another season as he tries to lead his team to their first Stanley Cup. Maybe this will be the year the Cup finally makes its way into the State of Hockey.