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Notre Dame inducted Tom Hawkins, the s

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MONTREAL -- Injuries, a battle with cancer and struggles to make the playoffs marked his 13 years in Montreal, but for the generation of fans who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, Saku Koivu was the face of the Canadiens. The memories flooded back Wednesday when the gifted and dauntless centre announced his retirement after 18 NHL seasons, including 10 years as the Canadiens captain. The 39-year-old played his final five seasons with the Anaheim Ducks skating alongside fellow Finnish great Teemu Selanne, but his career will mostly be remembered for the great highs and devastating lows he experienced in Montreal. "Looking back at my 22 years of pro hockey, first in Finland and then in the NHL, I feel truly blessed and fulfilled," Koivu said in a statement released through the NHL Players Association. "I have been contemplating retirement for quite some time and am very confident in my decision at this time and place." The Turku, Finland native played 1,124 NHL games and had 255 goals and 577 assists. He competed at four Olympics, two World Cups and seven IIHF world championships, winning a gold medal for Finland in 1995. The Canadiens, the Ducks and even rival clubs like the Ottawa Senators sent out tweets congratulating Koivu on his career. But his NHL figures are modest considering what he may have produced had his career not been marred by a succession of knee injuries, his 2001-02 bout with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and a horrific eye injury in 2006 that left him with restricted peripheral vision. And his career may have been much different had he landed in Montreal at any other time but the fall of 1995. Drafted 21st overall in 1993 on advice from scout J.C. Tremblay, Koivu stayed two seasons with TPS Turku before jumping to the NHL. Less than two weeks into his rookie campaign, general manager Serge Savard and coach Jacques Demers were fired and replaced by an inexperienced management team led by GM Rejean Houle and coach Mario Tremblay. In December, Tremblay left Patrick Roy in the net for nine goals in a 12-1 loss to Detroit and the superstar goalie demanded a trade. He and captain Mike Keane were sent to Colorado a few days later in one of the worst trades in Canadiens history. The former dynasty, which Savard had at least maintained as a contender with Stanley Cups wins in 1986 and 1993, went into a downward spiral that took a decade to reverse. Later that same season, the Canadiens moved out of the historic Montreal Forum into their new home, then called the Molson Centre. One of the bright spots in that era was Koivu, the plucky little centre whose leadership qualities were evident from his earliest years. In only his second season, Koivu was among the league scoring leaders with 13 goals and 25 assists in early December when he suffered the first of his serious knee injuries. On Sept. 30, 1999, he succeeded Vincent Damphousse to become the first European captain in Canadiens history. The big blow came just before training camp in 2001, when cancer was found in his abdomen. Remarkably, he was able to return near the end of the regular season. The thundering ovation when he stepped onto the ice for the first time since his illness went on and on, and Koivu was visible moved. Then he sealed the bond he had forged with Bell Centre fans by not only playing in all 12 playoff games that spring, but sharing the team lead with 10 post-season points. He was given the 2002 Masterton Trophy for dedication, sportsmanship and perseverance, and followed that by playing all 82 games in 2002-03, collecting a career-high 71 points. The cancer moved him to start the Saku Koivu foundation, which raised $8 million for a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner for the Montreal General Hospital. In 2007, he got the King Clancy award for his humanitarian efforts. "My time in Montreal was special beyond playing hockey," Koivu added in his statement. "Thank you to the fans and lovely people of Montreal for your support and love, and for providing my family and me with wonderful memories that we will always cherish as well as the immense support during my illness. "Thank you with all my heart to Dr. and Mrs. David Mulder and Dr. and Mrs. Blair Whittemore and the staff at Montreal General Hospital for saving my life." Another setback came in the second round of the 2006 playoffs against Carolina, when he was headed to the net with the puck but the Hurricanes Justin Williams tried to lift his stick and got him square on the left eye instead. He rushed from the ice with blood streaming from the eye and was taken to hospital. But no matter the injury, Koivu kept coming back and playing with the same intensity, even if the knee braces left him without some of the quickness of his early seasons. There were bad times as well. He bristled at criticism for not learning French, which some felt was required of a Canadiens captain at the time, and he was not happy that a photographer sneaked into the hospital to take a picture of his damaged eye. But for most fans, he was a hero. The Canadiens cleaned house after the 2008-09 campaign, and it included letting Koivu go to the Ducks as a free agent. It ended a 10-year tenure as captain, tied for the longest in team history with the legendary Jean Beliveau. Fans had to wait every other year for the Ducks to visit so they could greet him with their "Sa-Ku Sa-Ku" chants. His former teammates took to twitter to comment on his retirement, including defenceman Sheldon Souray, who wrote: "Saku Koivu is a MAN among men. He was an inspiration, a mentor, a friend, and an unbelievable competitor. He showed me what it meant to be a professional in a city that didnt expect anything less than excellence. He set the bar high both on and off the ice and truly showed the world what the word courage meant." Added former Ducks teammate Matt Beleskey: "Saku Koivu, one of the most dedicated and hard working players I have ever had the pleasure to play with. His compete level was outstanding!" Koivu thanked the Turku coach who helped hone his skills, Vladimir Jurzinov, and his agent for most of his career Don Baizley, who died of cancer in June, 2013. As well as the Canadiens, he thanked his parents, his wife Hanna and their two children. He also thanked the Ducks, who opted not to bring him back for a 19th NHL campaign. "I am grateful to them for allowing me to experience NHL hockey in California," Koivu said. "Orange County has truly been a blessing for us." The one thing missing from Koivus career was a Stanley Cup, but he picked up plenty of prizes. He won four Olympic medals, including silver in 2006 in what may have been the most impressive performance of his career, four world championship medals and a World Cup silver medal. Koivu said the seed was planted a year ago when retirement thoughts first cropped into his mind although he still needed all this off-season to make sure it was the right one. "Looking back, my retirement process started a year ago in the summer," Koivu said Wednesday. "It used to be easy to get up and go for a run and get back in shape, skate in August and prepare for camp. But it was the first time in my career where it was like, `Man, its not as easy anymore. Then when we started the season, I found myself asking the question a little too often, `Why am I here? Is this still worth it? Whats the purpose of still playing? You have your family and kids, you miss their activities … obviously you push those thoughts away in the middle of the season and focus on the games, but thats how I felt that I was coming towards the end of my career." Koivu said another contributing factor was the concussion he suffered last November and December when he missed a chunk of the season. Finally, when the Ducks were eliminated by the Kings in Game 7 last spring, Koivu remembers hugging his pal Teemu Selanne who had made it clear it would be his last season. "I said to him, `I feel so privileged that I played with you, and he said, `I feel the same, but your last season is ahead of you," Koivu recalled Selanne saying. "I said, `Teemu, I really feel like this might be it for both of us. And that feeling just grew stronger and stronger throughout the summer." The Ducks decision not to tender Koivu a contract offer after the season also led to Koivus decision to retire but he didnt have any interest of moving his family elsewhere and playing for another team. Looking back on his career, Koivu takes pride in having played so long given how his career and his life was threatened in 2001-02 by cancer. "My first 4-5 years in the league, I had some unfortunate injuries with the shoulder and knees and then at 27, 28 years old going through the cancer and missing almost a complete year … to have played in 1,100-plus games and playing some 10-plus years after all that, it really feels amazing," said Koivu. "I feel so fortunate about it. Had somebody told me that back then I would have said, `Absolutely no way that thats possible. When I first told the doctor after my chemo that I wanted to come back and play that year, he said, `Youre insane. Maybe youre never going to play because we dont know how the treatments and everything will have an effect on you. Being here in 2014, its pretty amazing." Koivu will use this year to simply spend more time with family but says coaching one day in pro hockey is a possibility for him. His wife and him also have to decide whether theyll raise their kids in California or in Finland, a decision they havent taken yet. "Ive always been fascinated about coaching," said Koivu. "But thats too quick right now. Right now its about spending time with the kids and family. Ill be an assistant coach for my son who is eight years old. But Im pretty sure that hockey is going to play some kind of role in my life later on." John Wensink Jersey . Fabio Fognini pulled off a surprise 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray to level the best-of-five quarterfinal at 2-2 before Andreas Seppi defeated James Ward 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the decisive match. J.T. Compher Jersey .Y. - Carey Price had an early feeling that one goal might be enough to settle the latest matchup between his Montreal Canadiens and longtime Original Six foe, the New York Rangers. ... as-Jersey/. The former world No. 1 Djokovic, who is the top seed here despite being ranked No. 2, snuck past 35-year-old Czech showman Radek Stepanek in four high- quality sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), on Centre Court. Djokovic appeared relieved when he converted on his first match point by swatting a cross-court forehand winner that just caught the line to end an affair that featured only two service breaks. Nathan MacKinnon Jersey . A fully booked flight forced me to leave two hours later. After a nice meal in which I studied the stats of the Argo win, I prepared to leave the restaurant. As I was gathering my things to leave many large individuals began to walk up and wait for tables. Mikko Rantanen Jersey . The Raptors general manager has his list of possible draft selections whittled down to a handful ahead of Thursday nights NBA draft in Brooklyn, New York. The Raptors, who have auditioned dozens of players over the past couple of weeks, have the 20th overall pick in the first round, as well as the 37th and 58th picks in the second.South Bend, IN ( - Jerian Grant scored 23 points and handed out eight assists to help No. 12 Notre Dame shake off a slow start and top Miami, 75-70, on Saturday. The Fighting Irish (17-2, 5-1 ACC) trailed by as many as 12 in the second half but had enough time to recover and shoot their way out of their hole. V.J. Beachem added 13 points on 3-of-7 shooting from 3-point range and Pat Connaughton contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Hurricanes (12-5, 2-2) were led by Sheldon McClellans 17 points and JaQuan Newton chipped in 16. Tonye Jekiri scored eight with a game-high 13 rebounds, but star Angel Rodriguez had just four points on 1-of-10 shooting. Notre Dame came into the game leading the nation in field-goal percentage at 53.0, but made only two of its first 16 attempts from long distance. After Miami got back-to-back 3s from Davon Reed and McClellan to go up 43-31, the Irish broke out of their slump. Demetrius Jackson connected from beyond the arc on Notre Dames next possession, and the Irish got triples on their next three trips down the floor to cut Miamis lead to five points. They shot 7-of-15 from 3-point range in the second half. The Irish soon went on a 7-0 run that tied the game for the first time since it was 5-5 early in the first half. Connaughton missed the 3, but Jackson crashed the boards and hit the follow-up basket to even the score at 50. On their next possession, Grant passed to Steve Vasturia from the flooor and Vasturias running layup gave Notre Dame its first lead of the game.dddddddddddd After some back-and-forth play, the Irish took the lead for good on Grants triple with less than 6 1/2 minutes to go. James Palmer responded with a jumper to cut Notre Dames lead to one, but the Hurricanes would only hit three more shots from the floor the rest of the game, including McClellans dunk as time expired. Miami never trailed in an uncharacteristic first half for Notre Dame. Averaging the fourth-fewest turnovers per game in the country with 9.2, the Irish committed two in the first minute and five in the first 7 1/2 minutes. They shot just 40.7 percent from the field in the first half. The Hurricanes still only led by one at the break. After Palmers 3 with 7 1/2 minutes to play in the half put Miami up eight, Notre Dame scored on four straight possessions and would go into the break trailing 30-29. Game Notes Notre Dame now leads the all-time series, 9-8 ... Notre Dames Zach Auguste returned after a one-game absence due to a reported academic issue and scored four points in nine minutes ... Miamis Ivan Cruz Uceda scored two points in his Hurricanes debut after sitting out the first half of the season with a suspension issued by the NCAA ... The Hurricanes fell to 10-1 when leading at halftime ... Notre Dame inducted Tom Hawkins, the schools all-time leading rebounder, into its Ring of Honor. Wholesale NFL T-shirts Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping NFL Jerseys Wholesale China NFL Gear Wholesale NFL Camo Jerseys Cheap NFL Hoodies Camo China NFL Jerseys ' ' '

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