ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Wild centre Mikko Koivu will miss about a week with a cracked bone in his left leg, the result of a vicious, stick-swinging hit by Vancouver’s Mattias Ohlund.
Koivu was injured in the third period Friday night after getting whistled for an elbowing penalty. Ohlund responded by swinging his stick and slashing Koivu on the left leg, an action that could earn Ohlund a suspension from the NHL, which has been cracking down on hits deemed unnecessary or dirty.
The Wild were furious at the attack on Koivu, who has been arguably the team’s best player so far this season with stars Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra struggling with groin injuries. Koivu leads the team with 11 assists and 16 points and has shown signs of evolving into a dominant centre.
Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard said he wasn’t “going to stand for it,” and looked forward to a rematch against the Canucks in St. Paul on Wednesday night.
“It was a two-handed baseball swing. Obviously a slash like that, you expect to see at least a five-game suspension,” Boogaard said.
Losing Koivu is a big blow for the centre-starved Wild, who already are without Wes Walz. The gritty veteran was granted a leave of absence from the team for unspecified reasons and is thought to be contemplating retirement.
That leaves them with three healthy centres – Eric Belanger, James Sheppard and Dominic Moore.