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Continued: Wild's Koivu and brother are leaders of Finnish team

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 19, 2013 - 11:53 AM

Kurri has known Mikko Koivu since he was a little kid. Koivu spent years attending Kurri’s summer hockey camps starting at age 7.

“You could tell even then how much he wants to win, how much he wants to battle and be good. He’s practiced a lot,” said Kurri, who won five Stanley Cups and is one of 18 NHL players to eclipse 600 goals. “He’s so much an all-around player. People shouldn’t look at the points, the stats. He does so much for the team. Every coach would like to have a player like that — really a team player you can put on the ice at any time in any role, offensively or defensively.”

In 2004, before Koivu made his NHL debut, he competed for Finland in a fourth-line role in the World Cup. That thrust him on to the radar for the 2006 Olympics.

When comparing the 2006 version of Mikko Koivu with the soon-to-be 2014 version of Mikko Koivu, Kurri laughs.

“He was pretty much Saku’s brother,” Kurri said. “There was a lot of pressure on him to play under Saku’s brother’s name. It wasn’t an easy time for him. He wanted to be Mikko Koivu, not Saku’s brother. That’s changed a lot. He’s not just Saku’s brother anymore.”

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