It was a disappointing day for Mikko Koivu, as he announced he will not play in his third-straight Olympic Games.
The Wild captain addressed the media today, saying that he is withdrawing from Team Finland for the upcoming 2014 Sochi Games. Koivu had surgery to repair a fractured ankle after he was struck in the foot with a puck on Jan. 4 against the Washington Capitals. He has not played since the surgery.
"I just don't feel healthy enough to feel that I can play at the level that I want," Koivu said. "I really think it's not fair for my teammates with Minnesota, with Team Finland, the management in Team Finland and not fair for myself either.
"Just the level that I've been skating by myself, I have been practicing with the team. I just don't think it's fair to anyone for me to go to Sochi."
The two-time Olympian has won a Sliver (2006, Torino) and Bronze (2010, Vancouver) with Finland. In Vancouver, the center had four assists in six games.
Koivu is well decorated in international competition. He has represented Finland in a number of international tournaments starting with World Junior Championships and most recently led his country to gold as team captain at the 2011 World Championships, tallying 11 points (3-8=11) during the tournament. Missing out on the Olympics will be especially difficult with Finland's international success and the grandiosity of the event.
"It's hard," Koivu said of watching this year. "Obviously we've had a lot of success in the past. The feelings to represent your country, especially in the Olympic Games, it doesn't happen very often. I just have to put the emotions away and think clearly. It's not fair to anyone for me to go and play for Team Finland right now."
"It's frustrating," Koivu said. "Just going back and forth, getting a good day and getting excited and then falling. I knew that would happen with bones healing...even knowing that and going forward, it's frustrating."
Koivu has been skating on his own trying to get back in time for the Games. However, he said that the pain would increase the more time and pressure he'd put on the foot. But with a few weeks off, the center will have time to rest, recover and rehab.
"It's healing just fine, the screws are there and that's going to keep the bone steady, it's more about getting the rest now."
The Wild Captain plans on taking some time off over the break and fully recovering before re-joining the team after the break. He wants to be 100 percent before returning to action.
"That's the goal, but I don't want to say anything right now," Koivu said. "I thought I would be going to Sochi if you asked me three weeks ago.
"If I would be healthy, it would help me to go to Sochi and play here, but at the same time make sure I'm 100 percent healthy for the Wild."
According to International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) rules, teams are permitted to enter a maximum of 22 players and 3 goalkeepers into the 2014 Olympic Winter Games Men’s Tournament. Game Rosters are set with a maximum of 20 players and 2 goalkeepers per team.
The Wild will have four players representing their countries at the game. Fellow Finn Mikael Granlund will skate in his first Olympics. Zach Parise appears in his second Games and will captain the United States, along with alternate captain Ryan Suter, also in his second Olympics. Nino Niederreiter will debut in Sochi with Team Switzerland.
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