Audio: Koivu on his past, present and future

Not-yet-captain Saku Koivu takes a breather during the 1996-97 season, his sophomore year in the NHL. He was voted captain by his teammates on Sept. 30, 1999.
Denis Brodeur, NHLI via Getty Images

This could be an historic season for the Canadiens and their captain Saku Koivu.

Expectations are high for the club in their centennial season, having won the Eastern Conference championship last season and gone two rounds deep in the playoffs.

This is the ninth season (10th, including the lockout of 2004-05) that Koivu has worn the captain’s C, second in service only to the great Jean BĂ©liveau. And it’s a contract year for Koivu, with no guarantee that he’ll be back with the club next year.

The 33-year-old native of Turku, Finland sat alone on Wednesday with The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs at the Bell Centre, a day before the Canadiens broke training camp, for a 45-minute talk, on and off the record, about his past, present and future with the Canadiens.

Here is nearly 30 minutes of their conversation and the feature that runs in today’s Gazette.


  1. Will Longlade says:

    I would love to see Saku hoisting the Holy Grail at the end of the season. IMO, here’s what’s needed to make it happen:

    1. The team must overcome the distraction of the Centennial season. Historically, the Habs have had a bad case of the jitters & played poorly whenever the Bell Centre has hosted anything remotely ceremonial.

    2. The team must overcome the complacency that often comes with the role of favourite as opposed to underdog.

    3. The continued renaissance of Alex Kovalev.

    4. The emergence of Price (& Halak) as bona fide star netminders.

    5. The continued success of the PP and a marked improvement in the PK.

    6. A marked improvement in the team’s face-off %.

    7. Icing the best possible team when in matters.

    8. Leadership from Koivu, Kovalev, Lang, Higgins, Komi & Markov.

    Good luck Habs. The drive for 25 is alive.

  2. sam says:

    9. being competitive while playing 5-on-5’s.

    this is gonna be a cool weekend.

  3. Bugs says:

    More importantly,
    We need to beat the Red Wings.
    If somebody ELSE beats the Red Wings?
    Then we need to beat the Stars.
    If somebody ELSE beats the Stars?
    Well, listen to Bugs or don’t…
    But have those folding chairs spit-shined and ready to go anyway.
    Just sayin’.
    Let’s get it on.
    Uunh! Go Flannel; go flannel! Uunh! Go Fla-anyway, you get the picture.
    Peace Out.
    Lord Bugs Potter, esq. Earl of Fluppitburg, Baron of Flopshlupshire and Knight of the Flannel Republic.

  4. twocents says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s a real privilege to hear Saku speak so candidly and optimistically. You did an excellent job interviewing him. You’re spoiling us.

  5. Steiner says:

    I’m going to listen to this on my iphone on my way to work tomorrow.
    It’s really weird to see Saku standing there without a “C” on his jersey.
    This man just eludes poise and class.

  6. Bugs says:

    Think you may have meant to say “exudes”?
    Gorsh, I hope so.
    If not, you wont elude me, Steiner.
    I’ll getcha! Trynna say that MY Saku is never within Poise’s and Class’s reach? Oh Steiner…oh dear…
    Say it ain’t so.
    Peace Out.
    Lord Bugs Potter, esq. Earl of Fluppitburg, Baron of Flopshlupshire and Knight of the Flannel Republic.

  7. gauvinator says:

    Can’t wait to hear this interview tomorrow…Saku is, by far, my favourite Canadien of all time. I have been following his career since I first heard of him during the 94 Winter Olympics when Canada and Finland faced off (I even remember where I was!) and remember his 1st game (I want to say the Kings?).
    Couple years back when the Habs were practising up at Pierrefonds, I wait around patiently, in fact right beside Captain Craig Rivet for a bit, just to meet Saku, shake his hand and thank him for being a Hab. No autograph, just a handshake. Great guy.

  8. Xtrahabsfan says:

    10. Getting Laroque healthy and on the ice so he can wipe out toughguy’s,can’t wait!

  9. Kristopher7 says:

    Yes I agree, awesome interview. Thanks Saku and Dave!

  10. Les-Habitants says:

    My favorite Hab, been the face of the franchise for my generation. Saku literally carried the team for over half a decade, and finally he is being rewarded with a team he deserves.

    One of the greatest captains on one of the most important sports franchises.

    Saku Koivu, man, seriously a Hab of the ages. Definitely one of the most under-rated Habs’, for what he brings both on and off the ice.

    PS: Great interview, thanks Dave. It was really well done.

  11. Ali says:

    oh captain, my captain!

  12. Hockey11 says:

    O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
    The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
    But O heart! heart! heart! 5
    O the bleeding drops of red,
    Where on the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

    (Sorry Walt the Captain is alive and well)

  13. J.T. says:

    Wonderful interview, Dave! I was particularly interested in the bit about Koivu’s fear of not getting too accustomed to the adulation because it won’t always be there. I guess I’ve never thought of the attention we fans think is a deterrent to players joining the Habs becoming addictive for some. And I loved the story about the head-shaving last playoffs.

    It was just nice to hear Koivu answer questions when he’s got some time to think about what he wants to say, and not sigh before every answer like he does in dressing room scrums.

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