Saku Koivu has retired

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After 18 seasons and 1,124 games with the Montreal Canadiens and the Anaheim Ducks, Saku Koivu has retired from the NHL.

“Looking back at my 22 years of pro hockey first in Finland and then in the NHL I feel truly blessed and fulfilled,” Koivu said in a statement on the NHLPA’s website. “I have been contemplating retirement for quite some time and am very confident in my decision at this time and place.

“Making it in hockey is not only about talent and hard work on the part of the athlete. You cannot do it alone no matter how determined you are. I am grateful to so many people along the way that have facilitated and made my career possible.”

Among the people Koivu singled out for thanks? “Dr. and Mrs. David Mulder and Dr. and Mrs. Blair Whittemore and the staff at Montreal General Hospital for saving my life.”

Koivu, of course, was afflicted with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2001. His return to the Canadiens’ lineup the following year produced one of the most memorable ovations in hockey history.