Canadiens to honor Saku Koivu as Ducks visit

Canadiens to honor Saku Koivu as Ducks visit
Now-retired Ducks center Saku Koivu waves to the crowd after a game against his former team, the Canadiens, in Montreal back in 2011. (Graham Hughes / Associated Press)

The Montreal Canadiens will conduct a pregame tribute to their former captain and retired Ducks center Saku Koivu before Thursday night's game against Anaheim at Bell Center.

Koivu retired during the off-season as the Ducks reshaped center ice with new additions Ryan Kesler and Nate Thompson.


"It's great that Montreal's doing this," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He brought professionalism, leadership, talent [to the Ducks] and was put in a position as a third-line center to take important faceoffs, play the last minutes of the game … did all the right things."

Koivu is tied with the recently passed Canadiens great Jean Beliveau for longest captaincy of the team (10 seasons) and his 2002 return from a cancer battle remains one of hockey's most emotional nights.

"Epitome of world-class guy, world-class player," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "Some of the things he's gone through and the attitude he's brought to the rink have really helped me a lot. Every time he came to the rink, he gave 100% effort.

"He deserves to have a great night."

Back in town: Rene Bourque worked to maintain the cool French distance that can be found in this historic hockey city.

But as the days moved toward Thursday night's game against the Canadiens, the Ducks forward admitted there was something special about it.

"I did play 3½ years there," Bourque said.

Bourque was acquired from the Canadiens on Nov. 20 for defenseman Bryan Allen after going goalless in 13 games. The 33-year-old had 21 goals in parts of three prior seasons with the team.

"I was happy to go back up and get another chance with a good team — a lateral move to another good team," Bourque said.

It's been more than that. He's been moved into a first-line forward's spot next to center Ryan Getzlaf since team goals co-leader Corey Perry sprained his knee on Dec. 5.

"I would've liked to have done better. [I] had great friends; [it's a] great organization to play for," Bourque said, adding that he remains puzzled why he didn't show better with the team.

"If I would've known that, I would've figured it out," he said. "No hard feelings."

With the Ducks, Bourque has one goal and one assist in 12 games. He missed a couple of golden openings in a home game against Edmonton last week.

Canadiens Coach Michel Therrien used to describe Bourque's spotty performance as "mysterious."


A Montreal reporter asked Boudreau if he had seen any sign of that.

"We're always talking to him — we call that 'sleepy,' that sometimes he's great and sometimes he's not — but we haven't seen that as much," Boudreau said.

Perry skating again: Two weeks after he sprained his knee in Minnesota, Perry has returned to skating in Orange County. Boudreau said Perry won't travel to Canada for this trip and could very well miss Monday's home game against the San Jose Sharks too.

Perry was originally scheduled to be out three to four weeks from the Dec. 5 injury.

"We want these guys healthy before we put them in, [not] three-quarters healthy," Boudreau said. "Corey Perry's a top-three player in the league. We want him healthy. We're doing the best thing … coaches always want their best players out there, but we'll see when we get home."