Should the Habs Retire Koivu ‘ s Number ?


The first time someone enters the Bell Center – nine out of ten times , he or she faints . Ten dollar hot dogs will do that to a sound minded individual.

In any other hockey rink , this occurrence would be frowned upon. Fortunately for the fallen , Le Centre Bell is no ordinary arena. Once the vertically challenged open their eyes – the first items that come into focus are the retired sweater numbers that hang so elegantly from the rafters of the building . An edifice that has never held a Stanley Cup party. Hey – nobody’ s perfect eh ?

As splashes of the contents of fifteen dollar beer cups rain down in an attempt to revive the weakened hockey fan – visions of Patrick Roy ‘ s number 33 may become the focus of their new – found sight. The very same Patrick Roy that ripped the door off one of his rooms at home during an ‘ altercation ‘ with his wife. The three-time Conn Smythe winner who , in a fit worthy of admiration from an eight year old child in the middle of a tantrum – skated off the ice and declared himself unworthy of the Habs ‘ brass ‘ incompetence. Patrick Roy – the very same coach who could be seen directing his son ( also a temperamental goalie ) to skate the length of the ice to pummel his unwilling victim senseless.

If the fallen fan steers his head in disgust – he\ she may discover the retired number of Guy Lafleur. Le Demon Blond. The Flower. Number ten. The same right-winger who is the all time scoring leader in the Montreal Canadiens long history. The very man who almost decapitated himself driving home one evening after one too many drinks in a downtown nightclub. The skater who was known for his legendary two pack – a – day smoking habit and his frequency of the Montreal night life. An alleged womanizer whose tales of conquest are supposedly well-known in the western part of the city. The Babe Ruth of the Montreal Canadiens.

A Different Type of Hero

Enter a 5 ‘ 10 ” hockey player from Turku , Finland.

The Koivu Family

A player who would skate on to become the first European – born player to captain the Montreal Canadiens . A post he would hold for a decade. Number eleven. The Same player who was leading not just the Habs yet the entire NHL in scoring before a knee injury sidelined his season and slowed his career. The forward , diagnosed with cancer and after beating the terrible disease – returned for the play – offs to lead his team in scoring. Ten points in twelve games during the 2001 – 2002 run to the Cup. Koivu. The little guy with the heart of an engine that could move that rubber tree plant. Saku . The same player who took an errant Carolina stick to the eye which left his team without its captain and void of its heart. The Habs lost the next four games to the eventual Stanley Cup champs after being up by two with Koivu in the line – up. Saku Koivu. The same player who created a foundation and donated one million dollars so a Montreal area  hospital could buy a PET scan machine. A machine that studies physiology or function and not the imaging duties of a CT or MRI scan. This enables doctors to diagnose cancer earlier and begin treatments before the dreaded enemy has a chance of spreading.  In other words – this machine has saved and continues to save many lives. Each and every day.

Look Up – Is it a Plane … Is it a … ?

Saku Koivu scored 641 points in 792 games as a Montreal Canadien. Good enough to place him tenth among the all – time scoring leaders of the franchise.

Twenty years down the road , my son or daughter could be at the Bell Center with their children. When he\ she or they faint at the sight of a fifty dollar hot – dog , it would make my heart proud if they opened their eyes and the first thing they saw was a banner blazoned with Saku Koivu ‘ s name and number.

Number 11.

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