Takin' a T/O with BT: From One Koivu to Another, How Saku Helped Mikko

xx yySenior Writer IJuly 9, 2009

MONTREAL, CANADA- APRIL 26:  Saku Koivu #11 of the Montreal Canadiens gets set for a face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 26, 2008 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.  The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Saku Koivu was never one to jump eagerly on to a bandwagon or look before he leaped.

He was always level-headed with whatever he approached, whether it was the biggest game of his NHL career or the biggest battle of his life.

Koivu never got ahead of himself and remembered the important things in life. That's one of the things that made him so personable, so likable, in his time in Montreal.

Even during his exodus, those qualities were on display as the longest-serving Montreal Canadiens' captain, since Jean Beliveau had to make his decision on where to move on in his NHL career.

If you were to believe the rumors, he had the chance to play with one of the greatest goalies of all-time in Martin Brodeur with the New Jersey Devils; he had the opportunity to sculpt an even larger legacy for himself in the bright lights of Broadway with the New York Rangers; and he also could have had the chance to take the Anaheim Ducks back to Stanley Cup glory in sunny California.

But many felt his heart, and his head, were left with someone else.

While many reported that the Minnesota Wild's offer was less money and for a shorter term than the other suitors, they did have something that no one else could offer: the chance to play with his little brother Mikko Koivu.

The younger Koivu was coming off of a career year with the Minnesota Wild; he had just scored 20 goals for the second time in his career, netted a career-high 67 points, and he was viewed by many fans as the captain of the Wild, despite the rotating captaincy that has taken place during Minnesota's history.

It was for those reasons that Saku didn't sign in Minnesota, opting instead to try and make the Ducks mighty once again.

When asked about the opportunity to play with Mikko and why he turned it down, Saku has a simple reasoning, "It's Mikko's career, Mikko's situation, Mikko's life."

While it'd be nice to go and play with his little brother, Saku, like the responsible person (and brother) he is, understands how much of an attention shift it would be if he sidled up next to him in Wild-Country. All of a sudden the story doesn't consider the career that Mikko has forged for himself, but what the brothers could do together.

The attention would immediately shift in a negative way, and that's not something that Saku wanted.

Sidenote: It's not a negative way in the attention that's given, because it simply becomes more of a "brotherly love" story. The "negative attention" is more a result of how it becomes about two brothers playing on the same team than the development of one of the bright young stars of the NHL.

Instead, Saku is headed to Anaheim to play with longtime friend and countryman Teemu Selanne.

And ironically, another set of NHL brothers in Rob and Scott Niedermayer.

While many can argue that the signing of Scott and Rob to Anaheim worked out perfectly in netting the brothers a cup together, for every "successful" family-ties story in the NHL there are those that fall apart, such as the Bure brothers. Pavel and Valeri only played together for a portion of a season in Florida, before Pavel became a member of the New York Rangers.

Or even the Sedins.

The Sedins? Really!?!


Henrik and Daniel have done little to differentiate themselves from each other through the course of their NHL careers from being drafted together, to playing on the same line together, to even demanding identical contracts from the same team this offseason.

Apart, there's no telling how successful the two could (or could not) have been, but the twins come off as dependant upon each other, and they're now trapped into a niche market.

Saku simply recognized where Mikko could go with his career because of the talent he possessed on his own, and decided that, "It's better for Mikko to establish himself without me standing by his side."

Besides, Saku still has a few years left in his NHL career. Once Mikko further establishes himself, there could be some room for a little brother-to-brother in St. Paul.

For now though, it's time to let Mikko grow.

That is, after all, what brothers are for.

Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you want to get in contact with Bryan you can do so through his profile, or you can email him at bryanthiel74@hotmail.com. You can also check out all of his previous articles in his archives.


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