The Montreal Canadiens sure do honor their past greats and legends with class.
On Thursday, long-time captain Saku Koivu, who played in Montreal from 1995 to 2009, received a lengthy ovation and was honored prior to puck drop between the Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks, the team he played his final four NHL seasons with, from 2010 to 2014.
“I always felt that I was respected as a player and for the way I played the game, but what makes me feel humble was the way I was loved by the fans,” Koivu said, as per the Associated Press. “Sometimes you think about why it happened, why they took me as their own.
“You can’t explain it, but there has been a real, unique bond between the fans in Montreal and myself. They’ve shown their passion and love and support throughout the years and really, it’s been amazing.”
Koivu retired from the NHL in September, after 1,124 regular season games and 832 points.
He’s been an inspiration in Montreal for more than a decade. In 2001-2002, he battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, only to return late in the regular season. The fans in Montreal gave him an eight-minute standing ovation when he hit the ice in his return.