MINNEAPOLIS - Mikko Koivu acknowledged the elephant in the room on Sunday, less than 48 hours after the Minnesota Wild was eliminated from the NHL playoffs in the Edmonton bubble.
Is there a chance he played his final game for the Wild last Friday night? Koivu, 37, has played all 15 seasons and 1,028 career games in Minnesota. He’s also on an expiring contract, but doesn’t want to think about his hockey career being over just yet.
“To be honest, I haven’t even thought about that. For sure I need to make that decision at some point, but it’s not now. I think it’s still too early right after the season to make any decisions on the future and basically the rest of my life,” Koivu told reporters on Sunday. “It’s such a big decision that there’s no way I’m ready to do that right now.”
Koivu played in 55 regular season games for the Wild this year before the NHL halted play on March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had a career-low four goals and 17 assists, and didn’t register a point for the Wild in the Edmonton bubble.
The Wild was eliminated after a 5-4 overtime loss in Game 4 to the Vancouver Canucks. The game-winner happened just 11 seconds into overtime, a sudden end to the season after three weeks of camp and an exhibition contest.
The talk going in was of making their stay in Edmonton a long one, contending for a Stanley Cup. Instead, it lasted just four games. The result left Koivu and the rest of the team without much to say.
“It just happened so fast. What we put up for the last two months or so, then the puck just goes into the net and the season is done. I think it was more of that, just a fast finish like that, didn’t really know what to think,” Koivu said.
Koivu doesn’t want to rush into a decision about his hockey future, but also knows he’ll be sitting down with General Manager Bill Guerin soon. Koivu says he’ll take the next few weeks to think about what the future looks like.
“It’s just the whole package that you have to think about. With the Covid, when are they going to be able to start the season? Are we going to be able to play at our rinks with fans? I think it’s all that that I’m trying to think and kind of stay patient with it and make my decision from there,” Koivu said.
It also depends on what direction the Wild want to go, and what the NHL looks like heading into next season with the way 2019-20 ended.
Guerin declined comment on Koivu on Monday.
"Him and I need to talk before I start giving you guys answers. No real timeline, I think MIkko needs some time for himself as well. There’s no real rush," Guerin said.
Koivu has options. He could return to his native Finland and play, he could retire and either get into coaching or a front office role somewhere. There’s no timeline for a decision, but after 15 seasons with the Wild, Koivu might have put on his Minnesota sweater for the final time last Friday.