Saku Koivu skipped the Anaheim Ducks optional skate Thursday morning, but obliged the throng of waiting media to talk about his return to the Bell Centre.
Tonight’s game between the Ducks and Canadiens (7:30 p.m., TSN-HABS, RDS, TSN Radio 690) is only Koivu’s second time playing in Montreal since he signed with the Ducks in 2009.
“It’s a good feeling,” the former Canadiens’ captain said of being back in Montreal.
“Even though yesterday I felt that I’m not going to be nervous, but now today it feels a bit different,” Koivu said.
“It’s a little easier than the first time,” he said of his emotional return to the Bell Centre in 2011 with the Ducks.
When the Ducks arrived in Montreal Wednesday, Koivu said people thanked him “from over the years.”
“It’s a really good feeling. It’s overwhelming. And obviously a lot of that goes with what happened with me and cancer and us giving back to the community and being a part of the foundation. ’But I’ve always felt that there’s a special bond between me and Montreal and the people here. It’s really, really unique.”
After his battle with cancer in the 2001-02 season, Koivu set up a foundation that raised money for a PET/CT scan unit at the Montreal General Hospital.
Koivu wasn’t the only member of the Ducks who drew lots of media attention Thursday. Teemu Selanne, 43, who has scored 678 goals and recorded 1436 points to date, plans to retire after this season, his 22nd in the NHL.
Meanwhile, in Brossard, George Parros skated with his teammates for the first time since suffering a concussion on Oct. 1 in the Canadiens’ season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Parros hasn’t been cleared for contact yet, but has been symptom-free for a few days.
It was also the first time Parros has spoken to the media since his injury. He told reporters, including The Gazette’s Pat Hickey, that he wasn’t comfortable with his fight being the focal point of a debate over fighting in hockey because the injury could have happened any time. (Parros fell on the ice during the fight, landing on his chin.)
Asked if he thought the league was trying to curb fighting in hockey, Parros said rule changes in the last few years have done that. The game is faster and players have to be able to keep up.
Check back later for more video of Koivu and Selanne.
You can watch what Koivu had to say here:
And here’s the second part of the Koivu scrum:
And you can listen to Selanne here:
(Video: Brenda Branswell)