Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Minnesota's Franchise Player...kind of

The definition of a "franchise player" depends on who you ask.

Many say it's the skilled player, the leader, the all around good guy who plays like a champion and saves the world in his spare time. But we don't really have that guy in Minnesota.

From many Minnesotans' point of view, the Wild's franchise player is star Marian Gaborik: scorer of 5 goals in one game, winner of the 2003 fastest skater competition, and last player left from Minnesota's inaugural season team.

But there's another player who hasn't been to an All-Star Game, isn't regarded as top tier talent (yet), and has only played in the NHL for three seasons. Yet I see him as the Wild's franchise player.

Mikko Koivu scores, takes faceoffs, is modest, a good leader, and the anchor of the team.

Koivu has broken out offensively in the past two seasons, but has done it very quietly, and while playing in every situation imaginable (meaning Jacques Lemaire loves him to death). Outside of Minnesota, people are only lately beginning to realize how good Koivu really is. Last season, Koivu had 11 goals, 31 assists, and was a +13; and that was after only playing 57 games because of the Ohlund injury. He also is a skilled faceoff man and was the Wild's top guy.

Everyone seemed to take Koivu for granted until the Ohlund incident. Once he was out for an extended amount of time, the team and fans learned what an asset Koivu was to the team. He leads by example, both on and off the ice.

Yes, Koivu's young, but so is Gaborik. He hasn't been with the Wild as many seasons as Gaborik has, but he still has been with the team his entire hockey career from the time we drafted him (6th overall in 2001) to now.

With Gaborik, it's a headache to try and come up with his contract demands, we bring people in (Demitra, Brunette) to try and make him happy, and he doesn't give an honest to god effort every single minute of every single game.

Gaborik might be seen as the accepted "franchise player" for Minnesota, but Mikko Koivu truly embodies everything a team needs in one person, and that makes him my version of the ideal franchise leader for my club.

1 comment:

Ms. Conduct said...

Amen. I value the points Gabby provides us, but for me, it's a bit of a loveless relationship. He's our goal-scoring sugar daddy. The real satisfaction comes from Mikko and Burns.