Take this line from a recent newspaper column in SoCal:
Teemu Selanne for NHL Executive of the Year!
Executive of the Year! It stands in sharp contrast to those Koivu detractors who would nominate Gainey for the same award for letting the Finnish captain fly.
The sense of excitement and approval seems consistent throughout the article. The same ecstatic writer from the OC seems to take Koivu's acquisition as a minor coup for the Ducks – final proof that Anaheim was the only team able to unite two players that Montreal has been talking about uniting for years. He says as much in his header: "Selanne, Koivu take Anaheim over Montreal".
And consider this line:
scoring ability – he racked up at least 50 points in his past six seasons
The Anaheim writer put down those words without a hint of irony or disappointment. Almost as if consistent seasons of 50 or more points was a good thing in this league. It's taking the very statistic we would use to bash Saku to lift him up with.
Then you move on to blogs. I found this one on the Battle of California.
Sheer awesomeness. I have been a Team Finland fan since Nagano -- basically because of the charismatic pull of Teemu's nationalism -- and I cannot wait for these two to join forces for Team Anaheim. With Koivu, there is simply too much to talk about -- the cancer battle, the Montreal captaincy, the little-man production, the selfless passing -- Saku oozes heroism and class.
Not exactly reserved in its praise. It seems an awful lot of people around the league have seen Koivu and think that maybe he's done a good job, as opposed to being the reason Montreal hasn't won a Cup.
Finding both articles came only a few days after one of oldest and best friends – banished to the hockey hinterland of Southern California – had forwarded me the promotional packs the Ducks had sent him for the upcoming season. Those were also plastered with pics of Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne – something of a surprise to those of us in Montreal who assume all hockey fans are drawn to the Getzlafs and Perrys of the world.
The grass is greener
Why am I harping on about Saku Koivu?
Well for one thing, I think the slow news and the emotional wound have combined to keep it top of mind for me. For another, I can't click 5 links without reading what a relief it is to have let him go. Then there's the talk of the leadership vacuum that he left behind. And all this while I get reminders sent from Anaheim on how exiting it will be to have a new scoring centre of Koivu's ilk.
I'm not sure if the grass is greener in Anaheim now they have Koivu or not. I have a sense that it won't be too much greener for losing him at $3.25 million it would have taken to secure his services here in Montreal. I do know I'll watch on with interest as Koivu and Selanne reunite one of the most exciting duos I've ever had the pleasure of watching.
And, if I have to put money on anyone making a good life after Montreal, it'll be Saku.