Saku Koivu makes what should be an emotional return to Montreal tonight

Few hockey players will receive a returning hero’s welcome quite like Anaheim Ducks center Saku Koivu is expected to enjoy tonight in Montreal, as Joe also discussed here.

The Finnish forward spent 13 seasons with the Canadiens, the team who drafted him in the first round in 1993. He was a captain for 10 seasons, scoring 191 goals and 450 assists for 641 points with the Habs.

Of course, the bond was made quite a bit stronger because of his emotional battle with cancer as well. Montreal fans greeted Koivu with an astounding eight minute standing ovation upon his return to the ice on April 9, 2002 (read all about that amazing night here).

Koivu became emotional merely discussing tonight’s game at a press conference, so one can only imagine how bad his “allergies” will become tonight.

“It’s a really unique and special bond between me and the city of Montreal and the people here,” Koivu said to close an opening statement to a room packed with reporters. “That doesn’t happen very often. The way they made us feel and what they gave us here, we’ll never forget that. I want to thank the people here for that. That was really amazing.”

As those final words left his lips, Koivu’s voice was shaking. He was having trouble getting them out. The emotion was palpable.

And that was just a press conference.

The emotions that will be coursing through Koivu’s veins Saturday as he makes the strange trip toward the visiting dressing room, pulls on his Ducks jersey and steps out in front of 21,273 fans who have waited a year and a half to express how much he meant to this city may very well overwhelm him.

“It’s going to be an emotional night, one I won’t forget for the rest of my life,” Koivu said. “It will be like I’m playing on home ice in a home arena, but I’ll be wearing a Ducks jersey.”

We’ll keep an eye on the proceedings in Montreal tonight and fill you in on the details later.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.