Mikko Koivu and the Minnesota Wild are on a mission.
Koivu penned a column for the Player’s Tribune, where he talks about a range topics from how he feels like an adopted Minnesotan, to his difficult beginnings in his NHL career, and up to present day, when his Minnesota Wild are chasing the dream of raising a Stanley Cup.
He writes about the moment in 2009 when he was given the permanent captaincy.
Being the captain of the Minnesota Wild has been one of the greatest honors of my life.
We’ve had our ups and downs in the years since, but we’ve been building.
Building for a team like we have now.
And the team they have now is the class of the Western Conference. Despite an overtime loss Wednesday to the Blackhawks, the Wild are in the driver’s seat in the division and appear to be firing on all cylinders. Newcomer Eric Staal has helped a lot with that. So has head coach Bruce Boudreau. And players like Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter have elevated their game to new levels.
Not be overlooked, Koivu is playing great hockey, too.
In his column, Koivu hinted at one other thing — aside from a good coach and good players all playing well — that has propelled this current Wild team to the top of the standings.
“It’s necessary to believe in the guy next to you, which is something we’ve maybe lacked in the past,” he wrote. “Coach Boudreau has come in and been fantastic. He hasn’t revolutionized what we’re doing, but he’s made sure we’re at the same level night in and night out.”
Interesting to me: Koivu credits Brian Rolston as the guy who taught him to be an emotional stoic on the ice. Never too high, never too low.
Oh, and one other guy that needs to be mentioned here: goalie Devan Dubnyk. Koivu wrote that sometimes it can be difficult, as a forward, to evaluate what good goalies do technically well. But he mentioned two reasons Dubnyk imbues Koivu with a sense of confidence: his rebound control and his calm demeanor.
When you’re scrambling on a penalty kill, or pinned in your own end, and you look back and see your goalie make a calm, collected save, it gives you so much confidence. Hockey is beautiful chaos, and when you have someone like Doobie back there looking at you like, Yeah, I got this, it makes a big difference.
He ends with a touching anecdote about Minnesotans running into him at the grocery store or in the park. He says that, unsurprisingly, even in tough times he’d run into people that would encourage him and thank him. He said he wants to repay that faith in Minnesota fans.
And the Wild are on a mission.