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Longtime Wild captain Mikko Koivu won't return

Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin announced on Friday that the team will not re-sign the 15-year veteran.
Credit: AP
Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu (9) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

ST PAUL, Minn — Longtime Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will not be returning to the hockey club, according to a news release sent out Friday.

Wild General Manager Bill Guerin issued a statement saying that the team will not re-sign Koivu.

Koivu, a 15-year veteran of the Wild, has been a captain for 11 seasons. He became the first player to play all 1,000 NHL games with Minnesota on Dec. 1, 2019. He leads the Wild's career list for points, assists and multipoint games.

"His hard work, dedication and team-first mentality will be extremely difficult to replace in our lineup," Guerin said in his statement. "Off the ice, Mikko's impact in the State of Hockey was immeasurable as he went out of his way to make a positive impact on so many people in our community, including his charitable contributions to Children's Minnesota."

Koivu was drafted sixth overall in the 2001 draft, beginning his NHL career on Nov. 11, 2005. He became the team's first permanent captain on Oct. 20, 2009.

Koivu signed a two-year, $11 million contract extension with the Wild in 2017. In February of 2019, he suffered a knee injury that took him out for the rest of the season. When he returned for the 2019-20 season his role with the club had diminished, dropping to fourth line center in a checking role. He used a clause in his contract to block a trade that may have landed him with a playoff contender as the playoffs approached.

The Athletic's Michael Russo reported after the Wild was ousted from the 2020 NHL playoffs that Guerin had decided not to bring Koivu back.

"We thank Mikko for everything he has done for our organization and wish him and his family the best in the future," Guerin said.