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).
“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.
Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.