Koivu retires from NHL after 16 seasons

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Mikko Koivu retired from the NHL on Tuesday after 16 seasons.

The 37-year-old forward scored 711 points (206 goals, 505 assists) in 1,035 regular-season games for the Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, including one goal and one assist in seven games this season, his first with Columbus after signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract Oct. 10.

“This was not an easy decision for me as I have loved every minute of my short time in Columbus and really hoped to be able to help this team accomplish its goals this season, but the bottom line is I haven’t been able to get to the level of play that I need to be true to myself and fair to my teammates, so the time is right for me to retire from hockey,” Koivu said. “I have been extremely blessed and I am eternally grateful to the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets organizations for the opportunities they have given me to live out my dreams of playing in the National Hockey League for the past 16 years.”

Koivu played 15 seasons for the Wild after he was the No. 6 pick in the 2001 NHL Draft. He became the first to play 1,000 regular-season games for them Dec. 1, 2019, and is their leader in points (709), assists (504) and regular-season games (1,028), and second in goals (205) behind Marian Gaborik (219). Koivu scored 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in a Wild-record 59 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Koivu was Minnesota’s captain for the past 12 seasons and left as a free agent after scoring 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 55 games last season, his fewest since he scored 21 (six goals, 15 assists) in 64 games as a rookie in 2005-06. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon replaced him as captain Jan. 3.

“Mikko Koivu is a consummate pro and while we are disappointed that his time as a Blue Jacket was short, we understand and respect the decision he has made because it is the result of the deep respect he has for the game, our organization and his teammates,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.

A native of Turku, Finland, Koivu won a silver medal at the 2006 Torino Olympics and bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He helped Finland finish second at the 2004 World Cup and played in six IIHF World Championships, including a first-place finish in 2011. He also participated in two IIHF World Junior Championships, helping Finland finish second in 2001 and third in 2002. 

Koivu is fifth among Finland-born players in points and assists, and seventh in games played and goals in NHL history.

“I’ve known Mikko for a very long time and am proud of everything he has accomplished and how he has represented our club, the Minnesota Wild and Team Finland over the past two decades,” Kekalainen said. “I wish him many happy years as he transitions into the next chapter in his life.”

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