Now that the Minnesota Wild has chosen not to extend his contract for the next season, Mikko Koivu has yet to decide whether he wants to continue his career in the National Hockey League (NHL) or just hang up his skates.
The 37-year-old Finnish forward, who played his 15 NHL seasons with the Wild, could become an unrestricted free agent on October 9. But it is not certain that he will choose to test the market.
“There are still several questions I need to ask myself to make sure I'm doing the right thing,” Koivu said Friday, according to NHL.com. I made some decisions, but I still have questions so I don't want to say too much now so as not to have to go back on my words. I must first be clear about what I want for the future. ”
In the event of a return to play, the former captain of the Wild has already quietly resumed off-ice training. He plans to continue his fitness in Finland, where he will return next week.
“I'm at a point where I just want to give myself a physical chance to be able to play if the opportunity arises. That's the hard part in this process and the best way for me to do it is to go to Finland where I can also train on the ice. Hopefully I will be able to practice with a team there and prepare as best I can. ”
For now, Koivu has no plans to continue his career in his home country, although there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the next season in the NHL due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I didn't think about that,” Koivu said. For now, just training with a team in Finland would give me the best chance to prepare well, and I need that at my age. ”
A hard time
In any case, the page was not easy to turn for Koivu who was the image of the Wild for several years. He was also captain for more than 10 years for the Minnesota team, which had drafted him sixth in the 2001 auction.
He is the player with the most points in franchise history with 709. He is also the point guard in assists (504) and games played (1028). He is second in scorers with 205 goals, behind Marian Gaborik (219). He is also the first player to play 1,000 regular season games with the Wild.
“It took me a few days, even a few weeks to digest this. It's a mix of many emotions, said Koivu, who learned of the Wild's intentions for him earlier this summer. But that's the nature of business. Now I have to find myself a new challenge. ”