By Michael Russo
Made that early morning flight back from Dallas and got to the X in time for the Montreal Canadiens and Wild optional skates this morning.
This morning was all about the Koivu Brothers, and like I wrote today, Canadiens captain Saku Koivu is a potential unrestricted free agent after the season.
I asked Koivu about his future and whether he’d be interested in signing with Minnesota. He definitely opened the door. Remember, the Canadiens have said publicly they’re not interested in talking to Koivu about a new contract until after the season.
Here’s the back and forth between myself and Koivu:
Q: You mentioned how fun it is to play with Mikko at the International level. We all know you’re a free agent at the end of the year. What’s your situation right now with Montreal and is there a possibility you can be free?
Saku: Well, there hasn’t been any talks. But right now the focus is on the season. We know the circumstances. We know we have a lot of players – a few players – on our team that’s going to free at the end of the season. You know, what happens, we’ll see. That’s the last thing in my mind right now. We want to have a great year in Montreal. We have a lot of excitement with the Centennial. We’ll see with the management what the plan is for them in the future and we’ll see what happens.
Q: But would it be a dream to play with Mikko?
Saku: Well, I played with him in the Olympics, so we’ve got that experience. But it would be fun in a way, but at the same time he went through a lot earlier in his life following my steps and everybody thinking that he’s going to be the same player, so in a way I think it’s better for him to have his career somewhere else and not being on the same team. But at the same time, that would be a great experience at the end of my career. We’ll see what happens.
Mikko Koivu was asked about the weight of expectations on him earlier in his career.
Mikko: I think it was a good thing that I got to come here and kind of find the way myself to the league and get the name for myself. We played for the same team back home – he played before and I got to come after him. It’s not always that easy. I think it was a good thing for myself to be here by myself and learn what it takes to play in this league. We played in the national team, and it’s always been fun, so who knows in the future, but right now I think we’re both satisfied where we are. We both have great organization to play, and great fans.
I asked Mikko about the possibility of Saku coming to the Wild.
Q: Is that something you’d be interested in?
Mikko: Of course. Whenever it’s your best friend, or brother, it would be a big thing for the family obviously. But I think it’s better to just live in the moment and just going to see what’s going to happen in the future.”
So when it comes down to it, is there a real chance of Saku signing with the Wild?
In my opinion, definitely. I think at the end of this season, especially if the Canadiens, who have a ton of pressure on them, don’t win it all, it would not surprise me at all if Saku will be ready for a change. He’s been captain there since 1999, has been under intense pressure, has always been under scrutiny and inside a microscope.
I believe Minnesota would have interest. He’s still a high-end player despite being 33. His start to this season should tell you that, and if you watched him during last year’s playoffs, he was one of Montreal’s best players. I also believe it would be a dream of the Koivu Bros. and their parents if Mikko and Saku played on the same NHL team, not just Finnish team.
And Mikko’s not going anywhere.
Ok, talk to you before the game.