Saku Koivu: A True Leader

Lisa BoychukSenior Analyst IFebruary 16, 2008

Saku Koivu is still being talked about for his supposed insult by not speaking French during a Montreal game, and it becomes more aggravating each time I hear about it.

Saku has always been a good captain to the team, if not for his support and encouragement on the ice, then for his contributions to many charities and commitment to the fans.  

Some of those charities include his own Saku Koivu Foundation and those such as the golf tournament with proceeds going to the local children's hospitals. 

I find it hard to believe that one simple thing like not speaking a language that is not even his first language could anger so many people.  For those who watch the Canadiens' games on RDS, they know that, though the announcers and interviewers may speak French, the majority of those on the team do not when being interviewed! 

There are few key reasons to be grateful he is still a part of the team:


1. Knee Injuries: Koivu suffered from two major knee injuries, both to the same knee, that resulted in him missing many games during two consecutive seasons.  

The knee was damaged to the point that he was told his knee would never be back to 100 percent, even after healed.  Would you notice it by his current play?


2. Cancer: As the world knows, one of the most courageous battles in hockey history involved Koivu's fight with non-Hodgkin's intestinal lymphoma, originally estimated as a 50 percent chance of survival. 

His personal strength showed through once again, as he not only beat the horrifying condition, but also made a quicker than expected comeback to receive one of the longest standing ovations in hockey history and lead his team into a playoff round. 

Who could ever forget the pictures, or the clip, of the game of him skating around the ice with his bald head?  I'm sure that memory is burned in all of our brains for good. 

Saku's battle was so touching that it's often noted in any Hockey Fights Cancer advertisements and was featured on TSN twice.


3: The PET scan : The PET scan may just be his biggest contribution over the course of his career.  This is what irks me the most about people accusing him of not speaking French. 

While he was getting tested and updated on his cancer, Saku had to drive for hours to have this scan done.  To eliminate the hassle, he decided to contribute a lot of his own personal money and create the Saku Koivu Foundation. 

This Foundation is for the purpose of raising money to get and update the PET scan, which costs millions.  What a success that has been!  There is finally one of these advanced scan systems right in Montreal.  If it was not for Koivu, this would not be possible.

He'll stop to treat each fan as important, and he's a true leader.  His strength and determination to survive was more than anyone could have ever expected. 

He's stood behind his team no matter what has happened.  He's saving lives and is an inspiration to many.  All this adds up to one thing:  there's never any reason to say anything negative about this hero.