Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray admitted determining the future of Saku Koivu wasn’t an easy decision to make.
“I had to do a lot of soul-searching on that one,” said Murray via the LA Times.
In the end, it’s an end of an era: The Ducks will not offer a contract to Koivu, the 39-year-old center who played the last five years with Anaheim.
Murray announced that Koivu, forward Daniel Winnik (a little surprising, given his penalty killing prowess) and goalie Jonas Hiller (who sat behind two rookies in the conference semifinals, so 'duh') would not be offered contracts by the Ducks.
While Teemu Selanne formally announced that last season would be his final one in the NHL, Koivu’s actions merely pointed in that direction. He decided not to suit up for Finland in the Sochi Olympics to remain fresh for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (He was also battling aftereffects of a concussion.) He played 12:44 per night in the postseason, tallying a lone assist in 13 games.
The regular season saw him tally 29 points in 65 games, although he won over 50 percent of his faceoffs (50.4).
Is this the end for Koivu?
"I don't know if he's going to retire or not but I know he went home to think about it," Murray said, via the Times. "I just felt we had younger players coming along that we had to move into the lineup. I thought it was best for this organization that we move forward a little bit.
"It was just time for me. And that [Koivu] was the hardest decision of the three, as you can well imagine.”
Koivu’s obviously the type of player that can write his own paycheck if he wanted to play in Europe, as older players with his level of name recognition often do.
“Where exactly that leaves the veteran Finn is unclear. Jeff Kowal, Koivu’s Winnipeg-based agent, told Sportsnet on Thursday afternoon that he’s not entirely sure what his client is thinking about the future right now. Koivu is currently back in Finland and recently indicated to Urheilusanomat magazine that he wanted a few weeks to consider whether he’ll continue playing.”
If he does hang them up, it’ll be the end of a career that inspired on and off the ice.