Koivu’s leadership on show vs. Toronto

Saku Koivu’s two goals Saturday carried the Canadiens over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.
Dave Sandford, Getty Images

It had been nearly 13 1/2 games, elapsed time, since Canadiens captain Saku Koivu had scored. On Saturday, his timing was impeccable.

Koivu scored the Canadiens’ first two goals in Montreal’s solid 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, giving the Habs their first two-game win streak since Nov. 8.

With his parents in the Bell Centre stands, visiting from Finland for the holidays, Koivu scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season, the first he’s scored since Montreal’s home-ice win Nov. 17 against the Boston Bruins. And in so doing, he again silenced the critics who have been dogging him of late.

After the game, Koivu explained that while his two goals were important, of more significance was the way the Canadiens played 60 minutes of winning hockey, bottling their success of the road and bringing it home. Here you’ll find Monday’s Gazette column by Dave Stubbs, and the audio portion of the dressing-room interview, which runs about 7:30.


  1. Girth says:

    Do we count the lock-out year?

  2. smiler2729 says:

    I like Cris Huet, I think he’s a good goalie but he’s just not a starting goalie. In fact, he’s great until he lets a goal in and then he mentally loses it and your #1 guy can’t have that mindset so make him the backup where he would excel in a 60%-40% split (remember how good he was when Theodore went down). I have more than enough confidence in Carey Price, who is rare in that, at age 20, he’s already got the cool of a seasoned veteran to go with his superior skills… I’d say the Habs are perfectly set in goal for a long time (unless Mario Tremblay returns and embarrasses Price a la Roy).

  3. linp says:

    Sergei is a much better fit on the 1st line than Ryder. That line relies on Koivu to start the counter attack. Higgins and Sergei can then cycle the puck down low. Ryder is too slow. When he was on that line, I saw Koivu and Higgins down low while Ryder is at the blue line. That is a bad set up.
    Another thing I noticed is that Sergei is skillful skating with the puck, making turns and passes. He is offensively minded. As long as he keeps moving, it is not easy to hit him. If he just stands still and waits for a pass or tries to protect the puck, he can get knocked down like Grabovski did. Hopeful the coaching staff advises him to keep moving. I can see that once he develops more chemistry with Koivu and Higgins, this line will be even more dangerous.

  4. Ed says:

    Even though I am a big supporter of Ryder, I agree that, based on his play this year, he is unlikely to bring us much right now. If he can pick up his production, his value should go up at the trade deadline. No matter what he brings, he has to be traded, because I am sure that, when he becomes a UFA, he will not resign with Montreal.

    I also agree with your comments on Huet & Price. Already Price is taking over the bulk of the goal tending, & doing a great job at it. Remember early in the year when he was getting approximately every 4th game, & mostly on the road. A lot of the fans wanted him sent to Hamilton, & said his confidence would be hurt like Fleury’s was early in his career in Pittsburgh. Now I think he has already become the go to guy, even if it’s not official. He certainly has turned around our fortunes against Toronto, who we could not beat early in the year. This guy is only 20, but I think he has maturity well beyond his years.

  5. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    I look at Hamrlik the same way I look at Kovalev (this year).
    Solid Veterans leading the way.

    I don’t like using #’s but you could almost say Hammer is #1 on D

    until the problem in my picture is solved…we will not be Champions.
    Delenda Est Torontium….

  6. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    Right now Ryder is a perfect fit on the third line…and that line will become the #3 scoring threat, they get the minutes, are good defensively and can put some muscle on the ice. Lets leave the finesse guys intact on #1 & #2.

    until the problem in my picture is solved…we will not be Champions.
    Delenda Est Torontium….

  7. Smart Dog says:

    I think the Hammer went where the best offer was. Thank Bob it was here!
    We wouldn’t be as good without him – he was the missing piece on our D – a big veteran defenseman, as solid as any, who mentors. Great, great addition.

    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  8. Smart Dog says:

    I would think you could get a 1st round draft pick if there’s a team with a real need. Huet would be a really valuable rent-a-player to some team that needed a top goalie.

    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  9. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    You’d have to think that Hamrlik saw the opportunity to really standup with this D corps…thats why he has risen – any team would gladly pay for his service.

    Great move by BG.

    until the problem in my picture is solved…we will not be Champions.
    Delenda Est Torontium….

  10. krob1000 says:

    Gainey always said he wanted to built from the net out….we have the goalies, we have the defensmen, so this years draft will be all about the scoring…..or so I have convinced myself.

  11. 24 Cups says:

    Ryder won’t be bringing us much at the trade deadline (I think guys on this site would be shocked at how little will come in return) but I was hoping that Huet would bring us a first round pick just like Rivet did last year. Is that realistic thinking? (I know from your other posts that you think we should try and re-sign Huet but that’s not happening. He won’t re-sign behind a phenom and we won’t waste salary in the $4 mil range for a backup goaltender. They’re not sharing next year – Price is going to play 70 games. All we need in reserve is either Halak or Danis at $800 grand a year.) If we could have two first round picks then we could either take two kicks at the can or even make a package deal and move up in the draft.

    The Original 24 Cups

  12. 24 Cups says:

    A note about Brisebois and Smolinski. It certainly appears that their time is waning and the end of the road may be near. However, I feel they may serve a purpose down the road, especially if we make the playoffs. In late February, a lot of teams will trade away mid level prospects or mid round picks in order to pick up ‘insurance’ players for the playoffs. Most of these transactions never work out as well as the team had hoped for (Ron Francis, Toronto). I say we play the kids as much as possible and keep these older guys around to fill a need or replace an injurd player in the playoffs. They are both well seasoned and are team players. If they play at all, it would only be for a few shifts a period. They would be no better or worse than anyone else we would pick up at the trade deadline – and it would be at no cost.

    The real dilemma will be when all of our injured players return and we have to deal with being over the roster limit. Then the team will be faced with making some tough decisions. That’s another post for another day.

    The Original 24 Cups

  13. Smart Dog says:

    This is a noble thought. But the mental game is so important at this level… and it has always been the knock on Breezer who seems to slip up in pressure situations. I can’t explain it any more than anyone else can – but he is not a coach I would want at this level. That person needs to be rock solid in stress situations. Especially those situations.

    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  14. 24 Cups says:

    It would take me paragraphs to explain my reasoning but the gist of it is we will only get one chance to lock up a long term UFA forward and I want it to be someone who can dominate and be a star that leads out team. Another small razzle dazzle centre isn’t what I had in mind. It also would have meant that Pleks would have gone to the wing or even worse might have been traded.

    The Original 24 Cups

  15. Smart Dog says:

    Jeez Timo, you seem almost happy. Stop freakin’ me out.

    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  16. krob1000 says:

    I think the organization will handle this situation with respect and as liong as the kids perform Brisebois will not be hurried but if they go down he may again fill in. They should offer hima position next year as he better than anyone in the history of the franchise (sorry Racicot) would be the best at teaching youngsters how to play in Montreal and handle the pressure.

    He showed courage and leadership the day he signed that contract and he has been worth signing to date. Every defenseman (except Hamrlik) has had rough patches thus far and given his age and salary he has done all that cuold be asked and more. Noone expected him to play as well as he has and despite his lack of physicality he still moves the puck as well as all but two of our d-men and can still play the PP.

    I would love to see him behind the bench next year helping out the back end (and he can ….he is very smart or he wouldn’t have hung around so long as a non physical dman).

  17. saku11 says:

    As much as I’d like to see Frolov in a habs jersey I somehow doubt they’d trade a 24 year old winger with all-star potential who scored 35 goals last year for a 32-year old goalie in the last year of his contract.

  18. krob1000 says:

    As much as I hate to see Ryder playeng in a third line situation (as I don’t believe he can be effective without an offensive center) I do agree that Sergei needed top six linemates to be effective. I see what Denis Savard has done in Chicago with his youngsters and I believe it to be the right thing (putting players in a postion to succeed). This was a good move for Kostitsyn but it comes at the expense of Ryder who amazingly still seems to be trying and keeping his yap shut.

    I noticed the first night with Kostitsyn exactly what Koivu did and that Kostitsyn just looks like his mind works differently than the other guys out there. He is a hell of a find and will be the better Kostitsyn in my opinion. I can’t wait to see them grow together as it is inevitable that they will eventually be paired together. I think that is the ideal situation as Sergei seems to be more of the playmaking type and I am sure that he is going to be feeding pucks to Andrei for many years.

    I will give Carbs respect for this move(at least this one makes sense…playing defenseman or grinders did not and I will never sway on that point)even though it contradicts my opinion about what should be done with Ryder. When Grabs gets healthy or we make a deal I would love to see us move towards a three scoring line approach but that is just me. Carbo has done wonders with the guys defensively and it can’t be argued that he and his crew have somehow transforemd Alex “me first” Kovalev into a genuine leader and role model. He always had the talent but this year he has stepped up in so many ways.

    I also wonder if Carbs didn’t give ol Denis Savard a call as they did hoist a Cup together. I am looking forward to tomorrow as we have a bone to pick with those Panthers after Vokoun stole that first meeting (Scotty90 don’t go changing you pic or frothing again as the bone thing is just an expression lol)from us. Of all of our losses that is the one that bothers me the most as we played a picture perfect game and were flat out robbed. We dominated them and still lost. Sure there have been some heartbreakers (Nashville) but did we really deserve to be as far ahead as we were?? Against Florida we were at our best and Vokoun was a wall.

    Damn I hate non game days.

    PS Now I get it Scotty90 I feel like maybe I spoke too soon……maybe when we are gearing up for the big cats you should be a rabid dog. I’m torn. Pint or Rabid Dog???See what happens on non game days.

  19. Hoegarden says:

    The time has come for Patrice to put on his best shirt, tie and jacket and stand behind the bench. He just cannot take the physical side of the game at the NHL level. His experience might be better used that way. We have a half dozen young Dmen who are in need of some pointers and since there appears to be an issue with signing someone to help these kids, why not offer it to Pat. He knows as well as we that if plans to stay involed in hockey that now is the time to get going with coaching or scouting or whatever.
    I believe we got what we paid for……..

  20. saku11 says:

    well said. My thoughts exactly.

  21. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    The Kosty Bros are winners…and it was a GUTSY move by CARB to put jr. on the 1st line…how many NHL coaches would do that?

    lets give credit when its due – CARB made a big time move.

    all praise Carb.

    until the problem in my picture is solved…we will not be Champions.
    Delenda Est Torontium….

  22. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    is that Beliveau at 10years captain.

    that gives Koivu 1 more year to hit 10…I say he stays along with Kovalev and they sign for less…you always need some GREAT veterans on the squad.

    Even the bias leaf commentators were praising Kovalev and Koivu, who says we don’t have any Big stars!


    until the problem in my picture is solved…we will not be Champions.
    Delenda Est Torontium….

  23. Wops says:

    Carey Price in net tomorrow again.


    brisebois injured again: groin
    CH is for Chris Higgins

  24. Girth says:

    As do I … how much longer does he have to go?

    Here are the past CH team captains…

    * Jack Laviolette, 1909-10
    * Newsy Lalonde, 1910-11
    * Jack Laviolette, 1911-12
    * Newsy Lalonde, 1912-13
    * Jimmy Gardner, 1913-15
    * Howard McNamara, 1915-16
    * Newsy Lalonde, 1916-22
    * Sprague Cleghorn, 1922-25
    * Billy Coutu, 1925-26
    * Sylvio Mantha, 1926-32
    * George Hainsworth, 1932-33
    * Sylvio Mantha, 1933-36
    * Albert “Babe” Siebert, 1936-39
    * Walter Buswell, 1939-40
    * Toe Blake, 1940-48
    * Bill Durnan, 1948 (January – April)
    * Emile Bouchard, 1948-56
    * Maurice Richard, 1956-60
    * Doug Harvey, 1960-61
    * Jean Beliveau, 1961-71
    * Henri Richard, 1971-75
    * Yvan Cournoyer, 1975-79
    * Serge Savard, 1979-81
    * Bob Gainey, 1981-89
    * Guy Carbonneau & Chris Chelios, 1989-90 (co-captains)
    * Guy Carbonneau, 1990-94
    * Kirk Muller, 1994-95
    * Mike Keane, 1995 (April-December)
    * Pierre Turgeon, 1995-96
    * Vincent Damphousse, 1996-99
    * Saku Koivu, 1999- present

  25. Smart Dog says:

    And a coupla decent goalies. 😉
    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  26. fuhgawz says:

    well stated


    if your not a Canadiens fan how can you say you like hockey?

  27. Bouleau noir says:

    In hockey players are only as good as their linemates allow them to be.
    Unfortunatly for Koivu ( and us) he never had the supporting cast in Montreal to match his talents,… things would have been very different had he benefitted from such appropriate matching,…. they all do.

    This year in Montreal is no different for Koivu,… one linemate forgot to show up at the start of the season and here we go again….. poor Saku that’s all I can say.

    But Koivu being our captain gives him the courage to put up with the misfortune and because of it the little Sergei will have the chance to be supported by one of the best center in hockey.

    I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead with Chris, Saku and Sergei…. thanks to Koivu.

  28. Smart Dog says:

    I can’t believe you are really happy to have missed out on Briere… but I guess the risk is there. Smyth would have been a great addition. He would’ve been my pick of what was out there.
    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  29. fuhgawz says:

    agreed —- i think we have a solid combination starting to gel and we have barely seen its capabilities — the two young AK’s are going to be great for this team such a breath of fresh air ….. and good point on Kovalev just amazing to sit back and observe what he can do when he has the puck you can tell just makes the opposing teams cringe besides Jagar and Iginla i do not know of anyone stronger on the puck then him.. he is a beast ….Higgy … yes i see him breaking 30 this year 40 next year …. we have it guys and gals …. i think we have 2 lines now that can score …. also …. lets not forget a pretty damn good 3rd line


    eddie vedder is a canadiens fan!

  30. saku11 says:

    Well said. Koivu definitely deserves to hoist the cup. The guy is a warrior. He definitely doesn’t get enough credit. His passing game is among the best and he battles for every puck. For a guy his size, he protects the puck remarkably well. I don’t think we’ve even seen the best of their line yet. Once K2 gets more comfortable, he’s gonna light it up. As for the other forwards, K1 seems to be breaking out, the guy has all the tools to be a great goalscorer. Pleks reminds me of Marc Savard the way he plays, he’s got great vision. Higgins can definitely be a 40 goalscorer in this league, he looks like he’ll break 30 this year. As for Kovalev, he’s just plain dominant.

    The arrival of K2 has really given us two good scoring lines now.

  31. 24 Cups says:

    I would think that he would be welcome to stay here but maybe not at $4.5 mil a year once his contract runs out (next year). We will be trying to sign all of our young players to long term deals and it may be hard to justify big coin for a guy who will be 35 and no longer able to carry the first line. Same goes for Kovalev. Also, don’t forget that we will be carrying a 35 year old Hamrlik for two more years at $5.5 mil a year. Huet, Dandy, Ryder Smolinski, Tommy K, Boullion, and Begin may/will all be gone at the end of next year but we still will have to make some tough long term decisions re salary and the cap. Espically if we try and sign or trade for a big centre or high scoring winger. It’s also another reason to be leary of going after big ticket items like Richards, Marleau, or Jokinen. In fact Vinny is the only guy I would be willing to break the bank for on a long term deal (and there’s little chance of that happening). That’s why I’m glad that we missed out on Savard or Briere coming to Montreal. Same goes for Gomez/Drury in New York.

    The Original 24 Cups

  32. fuhgawz says:

    tossing out these ideas: what if ……
    Huet since Price is playing well and Ryder since he is not scoring is traded for ….
    Kings — Frolov, Nagy and a draft pick, or Mike Cammalleri-one of those would be ok — doubt they would go fo Anze Kopitar which would be awesome … plus give us another KO on our team…..

    Capitals — Alexander Semin– unless Alex the great wants out … then wow !!! ….. but i hear he can not be traded is this true? of course we would have to give up more then just Huet and Ryder … maybe they would be suckers and fall for Smokes, and Brezzer as well …. ummm likely not

    Oliers — Hemsky, Horcoff, Stoll and a draft pick? one of those would be good …..

    eddie vedder is a canadiens fan!

  33. 24 Cups says:

    Good point. Gainey, Carbo, and Keane were never the best players on the Habs but they certainly reflected the criteria that you mentioned when they took their turn as captain.

    The Original 24 Cups

  34. doug says:

    Off topic, but what a useless division the Southeast is. . . one of the losers needs to make it and gets a great seed, all the others are also rans as we fight it out against a top-to-bottom solid Northeast.

  35. Scotty90 says:

    If the Habs consistently played like they did Thursday and Saturday…. wow, what fun we would have. Right now I don’t think I want to see any changes. Lets keep the team the way it was Saturday. The 2 Kostis are something else. Not only are they electrifying, I thnk they may be responsible for lighthing the Habs fire. Way to go all Habs players.

  36. P St. Pierre says:

    Great article and interview, Dave. Saku Koivu is one of the classiest individuals in the National Hockey League. If there is one player who I want to see win a Cup, it’s definantly him.

    I noticed that his comments regarding Sergei Kostitsyn line up perfectly with what Jean Beliveau was saying last week about the veteran players leading this team. He said that he would always adjust his game to a young player’s game in order to help them adjust to playing in the NHL. Koivu talks about S. Kostitsyn’s skills and says that its the team’s job to help him adjust and make him more comfortable at this level. Great leaders think alike.

  37. Mr.Hazard says:

    hey the picture works!

    Ex nihilo nihil fit

  38. Smart Dog says:

    As a captain, you don’t need to be the best player on the team, but you should be one of the most consistent, hard working, and dedicated. That’s Koivu. Every captain needs support though – and Koivu may finally have it in Higgins, Komisaurus, Hamrlik – and even Kovalev who seems to have taken some of the younger guys under his wings.

    Gee… it’s starting to sound like a real team again. Great that Koivu is still here to see it. If we get that one big sniper up front, we may even see Captain K hoist the big cup. Either that or one or two of our youngsters needs to break-out into super stardom.. it’s possible with this group. My money is on Higgins or Plekanic. Both seem to take a step up every couple of months. Of course, we don’t yet know what K1 & K2 are capable of – that story has just started!

    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  39. coutNY says:

    Why doesn’t Montreal and Toronto apply for an outdoor venue on New Years day?

    These two teams would pack any stadium… what about the Olymipic stadium for instance? Not in use much any longer?

    Maybe next year on the 100 club annerversary…? or is it too dam cold and windy up in Mtl. Can’t be any worse than Buffalo.

  40. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    Will the powers that be allow Koivu to become the longest reigning captain in Habs History.
    that is the ONLY factor in Koivus tenure.

    I hope he plays his entire career here.

    until the problem in my picture is solved…we will not be Champions.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.