Anaheim Ducks' Saku Koivu says facing Canadiens is emotional

 

 
 
 

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Saku Koivu had been looking forward to Wednesday’s game against the Canadiens since the National Hockey League schedule was released in July, but the Anaheim Ducks’ on-ice problems took some of the excitement out of the meeting.

“Seeing the jersey again and being an opponent, there are going to be a lot of emotions involved, and I wish the circumstances were different for our team so I could really enjoy this night,” said Koivu, who spent the first 13 years of his NHL career in Montreal, including nine as team captain.

Koivu was referring to the fact the Ducks are a team in disarray. Going into the Montreal game, they were 14th in the Western Conference, 12 points out of a playoff spot. They had only one win in their previous 14 games and had lost five in a row and eight of their last nine at the Honda Centre.

The rumour mill has head coach Randy Carlyle on thin ice, and there has been talk that Bobby Ryan, one of the Ducks’ underachieving youngsters, is on the trading block.

“As a team, collectively, we’ve had meetings and talked about it,” Koivu said. “We’ve shown the last two seasons what this team is capable of, and sometimes when things start going bad you’re trying to find a reason and a solution. You get asked questions about it and you don’t have answers. I don’t think there’s one specific reason, and at this point we have to put all the things that have happened in the past three weeks to a month and get back to basics. We need to get the first win and go from there.

“When the team is going bad, it’s never fun,” added Koivu, who has four goals and seven assists and is one of the few Ducks who is a not a minus. “When you know there’s not too many years left, and you feel this team can do it, it’s more frustrating. At this point, you have to put your own things aside and concentrate on the team.”

Koivu celebrated his 37th birthday last week, and he knows the Ducks’ immediate prospects and his future are entwined. His contract is up at the end of this season, and the chances of finishing his career in Anaheim are better if the team makes the playoffs and there’s no temptation for management to blow the team up. Koivu’s experience in Montreal taught him that wanting to stay in a city only works if the team wants to keep you.

“When it’s done here, it’s done for good,” said Koivu, although he added some of his friends have told him retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “they say I’ll probably want to play another year.”

Koivu said he might finish his career in Europe, but not in his native Finland.

“Maybe some new place like Switzerland,” he said.

And then there’s the question of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

“The Olympics have always been special for me, but I’ll be 39, and maybe I’ll need the two weeks break in the schedule,” he said.

Then again, if he’s playing a lighter schedule in the Swiss League, the break wouldn’t be a factor.

phickey@montrealgazette.com

 
 
 
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