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Mikko Koivu leaves Wild-Ducks game with hand injury

Feb 18, 2011, 10:51 PM EST

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Mikko Koivu AP

The heat was already on the fledgling Minnesota Wild coming into this weekend, but now they might have to forge ahead without their most important skater, Mikko Koivu. The Finnish two-way forward left the team’s game against the Anaheim Ducks after he blocked a Todd Marchant shot. Wild beat writer Michael Russo hasn’t gotten the team to disclose anything more than the fact that it’s a hand injury, but wrote that a source “in the know” says that “it’s not good.”

Losing Koivu would indeed be bad news for the Wild, as the pivot ranks high one of the league’s most underrated players.

Now, much like beauty, “underrated” is in the eye of the beholder. After all, some people might look at Koivu’s salary – especially when it jumps up to $7.29 million next season – and say that he might be overrated or at least overpaid. (Especially by the out-of-touch “look what schoolteachers make” argument.) Surely there are probably some Minnesota Wild fans who also rate him as the greatest thing since the specialization of labor*, too.

* – A high school teacher pointed this out as one of the “greatest inventions” in human history, but doesn’t that seem like a bit of a cop-out answer?

Yet when you consider his relative anonymity among hockey fans, Koivu is one of the most underrated forwards in the NHL. Saku Koivu‘s considerably younger brother is a great two-way player who can be a threat on offense to boot, with three 20+ goal seasons already to his credit.

Again, there isn’t much concrete information just yet, but we’ll keep you updated as information surfaces. The Wild’s status as a playoff contender is tenuous already, but losing their heart-and-soul center for a significant amount of time would be an enormous blow to their postseason dreams.

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