Ex-Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu retires with Columbus Blue Jackets

Mikko Koivu announced his retirement Tuesday, following a 16-year career in the NHL.

Koivu, the longtime Minnesota Wild captain, had signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason. He played in seven games for Columbus, tallying one goal and one assist.

"This was not an easy decision for me as I have loved every minute of my short time in Columbus and really hoped to be able to help this team accomplish its goals this season," Koivu said in a statement, released by the Blue Jackets. "But the bottom line is I haven't been able to get to the level of play that I need to be true to myself and fair to my teammates, so the time is right for me to retire from hockey."

Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin decided not to re-sign the veteran center after last season, which was Koivu's 15th with the team. Koivu is the Wild's all-time leader in games played (1,028) assists (504) and points and ranks second in goals (205).

Koivu, 37, a native of Turku, Finland, is a longtime stalwart with the Finnish national team. His relationship with Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen -- the NHL's first Finnish GM -- was one of the reasons Koivu decided to sign with the Blue Jackets.

"Mikko Koivu is a consummate pro and while we are disappointed that his time as a Blue Jacket was short, we understand and respect the decision he has made because it is the result of the deep respect he has for the game, our organization and his teammates," Kekalainen said in a statement. "I've known Mikko for a very long time and am proud of everything he has accomplished and how he has represented our club, the Minnesota Wild and Team Finland over the past two decades. I wish him many happy years as he transitions into the next chapter in his life."