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The Wild's Mikko Koivu (left), in his seventh season, is heading to his first All-Star game.

Jeff McIntosh, Associated Press

Captain Koivu makes his first All-Star Game

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • January 12, 2012 - 11:38 PM

CHICAGO - Andrew Brunette's reaction when told Mikko Koivu, in his seventh season, would head to his first All-Star Game?

"About time," said the Chicago Blackhawks veteran and Koivu's former Wild linemate. "People undervalue him because they always concentrate on the numbers, and for Mikko, he's a complete player. He does everything at both ends. A lot of times we're a numbers-driven league. I'd put him against anybody head-to-head."

Koivu's numbers are pretty good, too. After leading the Wild in scoring the past three seasons, he leads again with 33 points in 40 games.

He is the Wild's second-leading all-time scorer with 350 points in 473 games. He ranks first on the all-time list with 245 assists, third with 105 goals, second with 79 multi-point games, second with nine shorthanded goals and second with 1,169 shots. His 26 shootout goals rank sixth in NHL history.

"You hope this type of recognition on a national level will increase the league-wide awareness of how good he is," GM Chuck Fletcher said. "It's going to be great when the rest of the world knows what we know."

Koivu called the nod a "big honor," but teammates like Nick Schultz, Koivu's road roommate, said they hope he allows himself to enjoy the Jan. 29 game in Ottawa.

"It's a game day and a tough stretch coming up for us," Koivu said. "When the time comes, you're able to enjoy it and probably even more realize what's happening. Right now, of course, you're happy about it, but at the same time you want to focus on the game and road trip."

Koivu said he and his older brother, Saku Koivu of Anaheim, were going to get together during the All-Star break. That's off now.

"I'm sure he understands," Koivu said with a laugh.

Koivu is a plus-9 on the NHL's second-worst offensive team. Fletcher hopes this is the season members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association give Koivu consideration for the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward.

"We're a completely different team when he's not in the lineup," Fletcher said. "He's such an important cog to that whole engine," Brunette said. "It's hard for any team when you rely on one guy to play every situation, to carry the offense, to carry the defense, to play head-to-head against the best guys every night. When he goes down, there's that void."

Rebound game

Coach Mike Yeo expected a big response from Devin Setoguchi against the Blackhawks after the winger was scratched against San Jose for missing a Tuesday meeting.

"I always like accountability, and I always like even more than that, if you mess up, you come back and respond," Yeo said.

Setoguchi wound up scoring the Wild's first goal.

"Score a goal and lose 5-2, it's not rewarding one bit," Setoguchi said.

Etc.

• A bug is running through the Wild -- or at least its goalies. Josh Harding arrived late to Chicago on Wednesday because of sickness yet started against the Blackhawks. But Niklas Backstrom didn't dress because of the same thing, Yeo said. Matt Hackett backed up Harding.

• Colton Gillies (lower body) didn't play. Mike Lundin was scratched for the ninth time in 10 games.

• Wild TV color analyst Mike Greenlay will broadcast Friday's college game between No. 1-ranked UMD and Nebraska-Omaha on the NBC Sports Network.

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