It was a milestone day for Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu as he took the ice at home for his 1,000th NHL game on Sunday, becoming the first player in the history of his franchise to do so.
Koivu was recruited sixth overall by Minnesota in 2001 in the club's second NHL Draft. In the 18 years since then, the Finnish native has become an icon of the franchise for his bidirectional game and his reputation as a worker.
"I think the fact that I can (play the 1000th game) here in front of these fans and what they gave me over the years, for me and my family." Koivu told Fox Sports North before Sunday's game against the Dallas Stars. "That means a lot to me and that makes it special."
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Koivu told Fox Sports North before the game that his family, including older brother and Montreal Canadiens legend, Saku Koivu, would be present for Sunday's game.
"They showed me the way from the beginning and obviously raised me as I am," he added. "Obviously I want to thank you very much and it means a lot to me that you are here tonight."
Not only did he become the all-time leader of the team in the games played, but he also reached another milestone, registering his 700th point in his career with a primary assist in the goal of Kevin Fiala's second period.
The 36-year-old forward is just the 55th player in the history of the NHL to play his first 1,000 games with the same club. Koivu is the 342th player in the history of the NHL to reach the milestone in general. He was named captain of the club in 2009: only Zdeno Chara (captain of Bruins since 2006), Sidney Crosby (captain of Penguins since 2007) and Jonathan Toews (captain of Blackhawks since 2008) have long served as captain of their respective teams.
Koivu also has the following Minnesota Wild historical records: games played (1,000), assists (496), points (700), plus / minus (plus-71), shots on goal (2,242), power play points (239 ), power play assists (189), short hand points (25), short hand assists (15), multipoint games (150), clashes won (10,159) and clashes taken (18,929).