Saku Koivu to Anaheim Ducks: End Of an Era

----- -----------Correspondent IJuly 8, 2009

29 Apr 2002:   Captin Saku Koivu #11 of the Montreal Canadiens and P.J. Axelsson #11 of the Boston Bruins take part in the traditional handshake after game six of the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiensat the Molson Centre in Montreal, Canada.The Canadiens won the game 2-1. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI

Saku Koivu is as widely known in Montreal as Santa Claus.

Montreal has revolved around him as captain of their Canadiens for nine years.

He has the second-longest tenure as captain during Montreal's' 100-year-old history.

But a new day has started in Montreal.

Many free agents have left, and all but a handful of veterans with experience remain. At the end of the postseason last year, Koivu knew that his time was most likely coming to an end.

His contract was not renewed—we are not even entirely sure if he was tendered an offer sheet. Some were hoping the GM of the Habitants would throw him a contract. Maybe good old Koivu would settle for a hometown discount.

Koivu knew the team would probably be changing direction, stating after the postseason, "If I'm not signed by July 1, I don't think I'll be back in Montreal. Finishing your career with one team would be awesome in a way, but it's too early to say because I don't know what the team's plan is."

That is not the case. Today, Koivu signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks

Koivu will reunite with a teammate from the international level, Teemu Selanne. The pair helped Finland get the Silver Medal in the 2006 Olympic Games.

"I'm very excited to join the Ducks this coming season, I'm also looking forward to a full season with Teemu Selanne as a teammate," he said.

Koivu is one of those story players; one who overcame adversity on and off the ice.

He was not only plagued with career-ending injuries, but life threatening ones as well.

His first was in the 2002 season when he battled with Intra-abdominal non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer. The next was came 2006 when Koivu was struck in the eye during a playoff match against the Hurricanes.

Koivu has played 792 games, all with the Canadiens. He has 191 goals and 450 assists for a total of 641 points.

"Saku Koivu's character and leadership qualities are unquestioned, he is a skilled playmaker and we are thrilled to add him to our team," Ducks' GM Bob Murray said.