Respected veteran Mikko Koivu of the Columbus Blue Jackets has announced his retirement from the NHL. This is a very surprising move given its timing, but the 37-year-old has decided he has had enough. Elliotte Friedman relayed the announcement Tuesday afternoon.
Woah…Columbus announced Mikko Koivu is retiring
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 9, 2021
Mikko Koivu Announces Retirement
Koivu was a marginal player on the Blue Jackets this year. He had appeared in just seven of the team’s 14 games with one goal and two points. His average ice time was a career-low 12:28 per game and his deployment was mostly on defence. It doesn’t help that his Corsi For has plummeted to 36.2 percent with a relative Corsi of -9.8. Koivu has been declining for several years before now, so it maybe isn’t a surprise that Columbus was using him less frequently than other players.
The Minnesota Wild first drafted Koivu sixth overall in the 2001 Draft. It was their second draft as a franchise and it produced one of the best players in Wild history. His 504 goals and 709 points in 1028 regular season games rank second and first, respectively. Only Marian Gaborik scored more goals wearing a sweater for Minnesota’s second NHL team. Koivu is also way ahead in games played. He has over 280 games more than the next most durable Wild, Nick Schultz. It will take many years before someone eclipses the Finnish forward’s accomplishments in the “state of hockey.” It is largely due to age that he ends his career in Columbus and not where he made his mark on hockey.
Koivu’s Legacy in Context
There is absolutely no doubt that Koivu is perhaps the best NHL skater the state of Minnesota has ever watched. Neal Broten and Brian Bellows are the only skaters with more points to play the majority of their careers before the franchise moved to Texas. Koivu is also one of the best Finnish players to play in the NHL. He is sixth in points among skaters from the European country behind Olli Jokinen. He may not be in the conversation for hockey’s hall of fame, but it was a fantastic career worthy of admiration.