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I came with Saku: the end of an era for me personally

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Old
07-09-2009, 09:44 AM
  #1
Flambergius
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I came with Saku: the end of an era for me personally

In the early 90s there was this young man playing in his hometown team TPS. He played the game faster and with more intensity than anyone else I had seen, and though there was a recklessness to his speed, it wasn't dumb or blind speed that you sometimes saw from young players. Even at top speed his decisions were good and passes crisp. Sometime in 1994 I became a Saku Koivu fan. It might not be obvious but this was not a proper thing to do for a young man from Tampere, Finland. That changed next year when the Saku-Koivu-led Finnish team won the 1995 IIHF World Championship. It's hard to convey how important this victory was for Finland at that time; the country in deep depression (much worse then currently), we had never won anything, it was the Swedes in Sweden and the way the young guys played. With more than a decades worth of hindsight I think the best way to put the victory into perspective is that it was the biggest thing to happen in Finland since the end of Second World War. Needless to say it was now ok to adore Saku regardless of town or team affiliation.

In autumn of 1995 Saku came over to NHL and the Montreal Canadiens. This represented a dilemma: how to follow Saku. His first NHL game was actually broadcast live in Finland but otherwise NHL wasn't available on Finnish TV at that time, not on a student budget anyways. This was also pre-WWW, so there wasn't a mainstream internet solution. USENET to the rescue. In particular alt.sports.hockey.nhl.mtl-canadiens, where I found a whole host of knowledgeable and opinionated people talking about the thing they cared above almost anything else: the Montreal Canadiens. I can still remember many names from there: Gerry Warner with his boundless optimism, A.J. Bassett's thoughtful and analytical writeups, Mssrs Merrithew, Sibley, Parent and how could one forget (and one might want to :-)) the Ranting Steve Ranta.

Now, I confess, I wasn't that into the Habs back in '95. I was vaguely aware that the Habs were the greatest team of all time and my Stiga table hockey game had been a Habs-Leafs, but I can't remember which I played more and really the only NHL team that had registered in my teens was the Edmonton Oilers. A daily regiment of match reports, player evaluations, gossip and even the occasional tape of a particularly fine match sent over soon cured my ambivalence towards the Habs. By the time Saku became the captain I too felt quite Bleu-Blanc-et-Rouge.

I just spend a bit of time looking over stats and standings from the ten seasons starting from the 1995-1996 season. In general, urgh! Some of it is illustrating like the 98-99 scoring table (#1 Recchi and #3 Damphousse traded at deadline), but much of it is just painful like pretty much everything associated with the 1999-2000 Montreal Canadiens (Vigneault, Rucinsky, Zubrus, Zhiltok, Lachance, Laflamme, Lind, Bashkirov). You didn't need to see too many games to know that it was bad out there. Luckily for me by the time downloads and streaming started being viable options around 2004 or 2005, the Habs were starting to be pretty decent again. I think the trade for Alexei Kovalev at the 2004 trade deadline was the best trade the Habs have made while I've been here. It's not great just in terms of players involved and their contribution, but it set a new, more confident tone to the team: the Habs were again buyers and teams that buy at trade deadline at least think (even if they might not say it out loud) that they are contenders. I know it affected me in that way.

For me the Koivu Era truly is an era. It compasses most of many adult life, it intertwines with my networked lifestyle. I had wondered a bit how I will feel when Saku Koivu and the Habs aren't the same thing anymore. Now I know: came here with Saku, not going to leave any time soon. USENET has given way for the Web and HFboards, which I read every morning at work, unless I've watched the Habs game live via ESPN360 in which case it might be noon by the time I get to the office. :-)


PS. I get why Gainey felt that Koivu had to go. As long as Koivu stayed it was Koivu's team. If you want something else then Koivu has to go. I might argue that you'd want a team to be Koivu's team, but Gainey felt otherwise. He has a year, max two, to show that he was correct.

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07-09-2009, 10:12 AM
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montreal
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Nicely said. I have been a huge Koivu fan and he will always be one of my all time favorite Habs (funny two of my favorite all time Habs are Naslund and Koivu, if you count current Habs it's Markov)

I am sad to see him go but also very happy, I truely hated the lack of respect he got from some "fans". It would sicken me to no end, so for me, I'm glad I don't have to put up with that crap anymore. I love Koivu as a player on and off the ice, I never understood why some hate this guy or how anyone could hate him.

He plays the game the way it should be played and while he's been very unlucky with injuries and crappy linemates over the years, it was always a treat to watch him play, especially during the darker years when the Habs were bottom feeders.

I wish him the best and I'm glad I got to grow up watching since we are about the same age, it sucks he's gone but nothing last forever.

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07-09-2009, 10:24 AM
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LyricalLyricist
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I was born in 1987. I grew up with koivu as captain and part of the franchise so I can understand this. For me, he's more than a face of the franchise, koivu was everything right about the franchise when it wasn't great. I respect him and wish him the best and I agree with other posters, i'm happy for him that maybe anahiem, although a less hockey mad fan base, may appreciate him, because sometimes I wonder if we even deserved him. All the best Saku and excellent post.

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07-09-2009, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LyricalLyricist View Post
I was born in 1987. I grew up with koivu as captain and part of the franchise so I can understand this. For me, he's more than a face of the franchise, koivu was everything right about the franchise when it wasn't great. I respect him and wish him the best and I agree with other posters, i'm happy for him that maybe anahiem, although a less hockey mad fan base, may appreciate him, because sometimes I wonder if we even deserved him. All the best Saku and excellent post.
I'm sorry for you kids. I grew up watching and admiring Patrick Roy.

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07-09-2009, 10:39 AM
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Chili
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Interesting perspective, great post.

This is one of the reasons I don't have a favorite team anymore.

Players come and go so much more now then back when I started following the game.

You really get to appreciate the great players and personalites this way instead of just booing/cheering the sweater they are wearing.

Saku will be well remembered in hockey, regardless of his sweater.

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07-09-2009, 10:40 AM
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Andy
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Originally Posted by AlexMeth View Post
I'm sorry for you kids. I grew up watching and admiring Patrick Roy.
Oh no! You're better, you win, we suck. Honestly what a useless comment.

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07-09-2009, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by AlexMeth View Post
I'm sorry for you kids. I grew up watching and admiring Patrick Roy.
I lived through both and I'd take Saku any day over Roy and his rings.

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07-09-2009, 10:42 AM
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Great post.

I was born in 83, damn 30 is just around the corner , and became a Habfan in 90. I vaguely remember the last cup in 93, so long ago, and idolizing Patrick Roy at the time. However, my memories of the Habs while growing up will always revolve around the diminutive center from Finland. Hope he succeeds in Anaheim.

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07-09-2009, 10:43 AM
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AlexMeth
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Originally Posted by HockeyF3ind View Post
I lived through both and I'd take Saku any day over Roy and his rings.
the drive for 23!

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07-09-2009, 10:47 AM
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Oh no! You're better, you win, we suck. Honestly what a useless comment.
no - I suck 'cause I live in the past

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07-09-2009, 11:20 AM
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loudi94
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Originally Posted by AlexMeth View Post
I'm sorry for you kids. I grew up watching and admiring Patrick Roy.
For us older kids who grew up watching 4 cups in 4 years, anything after 93 has been an absolute nightmare. I love Saku, he would have fit in great along side the old Habs. Of course as with all Habs players, they come and go. The sweater remains.

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07-09-2009, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by LyricalLyricist View Post
I was born in 1987. I grew up with koivu as captain and part of the franchise so I can understand this. For me, he's more than a face of the franchise, koivu was everything right about the franchise when it wasn't great. I respect him and wish him the best and I agree with other posters, i'm happy for him that maybe anahiem, although a less hockey mad fan base, may appreciate him, because sometimes I wonder if we even deserved him. All the best Saku and excellent post.
Same here.

At the beginning of the year, despite the team on paper, there was also optimism and there was always the common fact that Saku would be part of this team.

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07-09-2009, 11:45 AM
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Good writeup man, and welcome to HF we need more intelligent posters here.

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07-09-2009, 12:16 PM
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Gros Bill
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Originally Posted by AlexMeth View Post
I'm sorry for you kids. I grew up watching and admiring Patrick Roy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by loudi94 View Post
For us older kids who grew up watching 4 cups in 4 years, anything after 93 has been an absolute nightmare. I love Saku, he would have fit in great along side the old Habs. Of course as with all Habs players, they come and go. The sweater remains.
Well, you all should feel sorry for me. I grew up watching Jean Béliveau, Henri Richard, Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur...

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07-09-2009, 12:30 PM
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DDs not undersized
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It's interesting to see that love for Koivu is mostly a question of generations. Koivu is an idol for those born in 86-87 or after and who are too young to remember the last Stanley Cup. But for the older fans who have seen the Habs being the greatest NHL team, it's pretty different.

I was born in 1981, so I grew up with the 2 times 50 goals French Canadian scorer Stéphane Richer as my idol. I had posters of him in my bedroom and I remember how excited I was when he scored his 49th and 50th goal in the last game of the season. I barely remember the 1986 cup, but I lived the 1993 one very intensely. But after that, it's the Koivu era... Or the Houle era, we should say. Around 12 years of mediocrity.

I love Koivu. He's a hard working player with a giant heart and I wished he had won a cup in Montreal. But on the ice, apart from his magical season start that was stopped by a knee injury, he has never done anything very impressive. I like him, but he's too associated with a mediocre team for him to become an idol. But I understand that for fans who've never seen the Habs being a cup contender, Koivu was the only bright spot in a very dark era.

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07-09-2009, 12:55 PM
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Good writeup man, and welcome to HF we need more intelligent posters here.
lol welcome? i thought it meant he was leaving :/

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07-09-2009, 01:08 PM
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born in 86, came to canada in 95 and started to watch hockey like every other kids in montreal. i saw koivu play, saw his first goal, and became a fan of his. koivu is like a super hero to me. i dont know how to explain how sad i am seeing koivu leave.

i understand its a business, but i just cant believe it ended like this. he was a loyal player to the habs, and it just frustrated me what some of the fans and RDS would say about him and also how he was never even offered an contract.

its mainly because of koivu i grew a love for the habs, but i dont think koivu would want us not to cheer for the habs anymore just because hes not with habs anymore. i will cheer for the habs as much as i will cheer for koivu.

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07-09-2009, 01:16 PM
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Bermy
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I became a habs fan in 2001. My first memory of following the habs was Koivu coming back from cancer. He has always been my favourite player

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07-09-2009, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Analyzer View Post
Same here.

At the beginning of the year, despite the team on paper, there was also optimism and there was always the common fact that Saku would be part of this team.
I feel the same way.. it was always the same group of players and also Saku.. he was more than a hockey player to us i think that's what make fans so passionate. that the players who have been around so long become more than just players.. you want them to do good not only because you want the team to do good but because they have become a fellow montrealer and they are one of us.

Now with the new guys i think it will take alot of time to get that feeling back. Not saying i don't like the changes though.

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07-09-2009, 01:30 PM
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The n00b King
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this thread was totally not what i was expecting

misleading title


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07-09-2009, 01:33 PM
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lol welcome? i thought it meant he was leaving :/
No no, I'm staying. The post is just some thoughts that came to me, though I would have hopped that it is at least tangentially about growing into a Habs fan.

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07-09-2009, 01:35 PM
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AlexMeth
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Originally Posted by Partisan du CH View Post
It's interesting to see that love for Koivu is mostly a question of generations. Koivu is an idol for those born in 86-87 or after and who are too young to remember the last Stanley Cup. But for the older fans who have seen the Habs being the greatest NHL team, it's pretty different.

I was born in 1981, so I grew up with the 2 times 50 goals French Canadian scorer Stéphane Richer as my idol. I had posters of him in my bedroom and I remember how excited I was when he scored his 49th and 50th goal in the last game of the season. I barely remember the 1986 cup, but I lived the 1993 one very intensely. But after that, it's the Koivu era... Or the Houle era, we should say. Around 12 years of mediocrity.

I love Koivu. He's a hard working player with a giant heart and I wished he had won a cup in Montreal. But on the ice, apart from his magical season start that was stopped by a knee injury, he has never done anything very impressive. I like him, but he's too associated with a mediocre team for him to become an idol. But I understand that for fans who've never seen the Habs being a cup contender, Koivu was the only bright spot in a very dark era.
My thoughts, exactly.

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Old
07-09-2009, 01:40 PM
  #23
Saint Patrick
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Well, you all should feel sorry for me. I grew up watching Jean Béliveau, Henri Richard, Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur...
haha gold....


Great post OP.

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Old
07-09-2009, 01:41 PM
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RC51
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Life goes on.
I was born in the year of the red bird 1951. I have seen the Habs end of an era before. The Rocket Richard era, the Guy Lafleur era the Patrick Roy era and now the Koivu era. Every time it's the same thing, It's the end of the world, what will the Habs do? the darkest hour in history. Well NO it's not. It's really just the continuing history of Hockey's most important team. Hockey was born in Westmount, Montreal and the world has not been the same since. Think back, when the est ( USSR) was to play the west ( the best team in the NHL) it was MONTREAL 1972 New Years Eve game. It always seem to happen in MTL. For those that are NOT that old, think back to the Ranger Game just 2 years ago with the Habs down 5-0 2 minutes into the second period, Remember the 21,000 fans took over the game, Remember every time a Hab had the puck the crowd went wild, over and over again, the crowd virtually willing the team to go flat out and score and the Habs did over and over to finish one of the greatest comebacks in history. You just had to be there to truly understand the power of the crowd, the power of Montreal, the power of the birthplace of hockey. The Rangers were absolutely dumbfounded all the players were looking up at the crowd for almost 2 full periods, it sure was a sight to see and all players from both teams knew they were at a very special event, a historic event. So when you think the Habs are down and out, think again, a new era has started, a new set of Habs to cheer as they leave their sweat and blood on the ice in the pursuit of the 25th CUP.

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Old
07-09-2009, 01:44 PM
  #25
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Originally Posted by LyricalLyricist View Post
I was born in 1987.
In 87 I went and saw Kick Axe and Helix in concert

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