Saku Koivu is considered one of the greatest Finnish hockey players of all-time. A centre forward, Koivu débuted at the Finnish Championships in 1992 with Turun Palloseura (TPS), playing with them until 1995 and won Finnish titles in 1993 and 1995. Koivu was drafted by the Montréal Canadiens of the NHL in 1993 and joined the team in 1995. He played 14 seasons with the Canadiens and from 1999 was selected as the first European captain of the Canadiens, and with his 10 seasons (1999-2009) as captain, became the all-time longest-serving captain of the Canadiens. He served in that capacity until 2009, when he moved to the Anaheim Ducks. During his 14 years with the Canadiens, Koivu was voted to the NHL All-Star Game in 1998 and 2003, won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2002 and King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2007. Koivu missed most of the 2001-02 season due to Burkitt’s lymphoma, but recovered from the cancer remarkably fast to help his team to gain a playoff spot in April 2002. After joining the Anaheim Ducks in 2009, Koivu has played with them and served as an alternate captain of the team.
Internationally, Koivu has played with the Finnish national team since 1993 and served as the captain of Finnish team since 1998. He is one of the most internationally decorated Finnish hockey players, winning Olympic silver in 2006 and Olympic bronzes in 1994, 1998 and 2010. He was the top scorer at the 1998 and 2006 Olympic tournaments, tying both times with his teammate Teemu Selänne with 10 and 11 points respectively. At the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Koivu was elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission by athletes participating at those Games. At the World Championships, Koivu won a title in 1995, silver medals in 1994 and 1999, and a bronze medal in 2008. He was the top scorer at the 1999 World Championships, was named the best forward of the 1995 and 1999 tournament and was selected to the All-Star team at the 1994, 1995 and 1999 tournaments. He also won silver at the 2004 World Cup and was named as the best Finnish hockey player-of-the-year in 1994 and 1995. His younger brother Mikko is also an ice hockey player, who won silver at the 2006 Olympic Games and bronze at the 2010 Olympic Games.