“I want to keep this as low-profile as possible.”

Saku Koivu is many things and a dreamer is one of them.

The enormously popular former Canadiens captain touched down in Montreal on the Anaheim Ducks’ charter Wednesday afternoon planning to spend a quiet evening over an early dinner with friends.

On Thursday morning Koivu will be swallowed whole by a media monster at the Ducks’ Bell Centre game-day skate and then he’ll be embraced come evening by a full house at the arena when he faces the Canadiens.

It might Koivu said be the final time that he’ll play an NHL game in Montreal.

Or maybe not.

It will be only the second time that Koivu for a decade the inspirational leader of the Canadiens before he was cut adrift to sign with Anaheim in July 2009 has played here as an opponent.

It’s been nearly three years since he last played in Montreal his homecoming an evening that gave you goosebumps from before its start to well past its finish.

“In a way it’s a little easier to come back the second time” the 38-year-old said having just checked into the Ducks’ downtown hotel.

“It’s a little less hectic this time than the time before and that’s kind of the way I want to do it.

“There’s not as much hassle — well not hassle but the press conference and all the media attention the first time. I’m hoping I can kind of relax and enjoy the day a bit more than the last time when I felt the butterflies even a few days before.”

Any fan of the Canadiens between 1995 when Koivu broke into the NHL with the Canadiens at age 21 through 2009 when the team’s crashing waves of free agency sucked him to California in their undertow grew to admire if not love this feisty Finn.

It was in Montreal as the face of both good and poor Canadiens teams that Koivu became a husband and a father.

It was here that for nine seasons (10 including the 2004-05 lockout) from Sept. 30 1999 to his departure on July 1 2009 that he captained the team for 563 games the 27th captain in franchise history.

Drafted by the Canadiens at age 18 Koivu would play 792 regular-season games for the Habs 846 including playoffs.

It was in Montreal over 16 years that Koivu healed his broken bones and torn joints and very publicly battled cancer and dealt with near blindness — his own caused by an opponent’s high stick and that of others who were short-sighted with bigotry and ignorance.

And it was here that Koivu would put his victory over cancer to generous use the foundation he created raising millions for the purchase of a PET/CT scan unit for the Montreal General Hospital to help cancer patients he will never know.

Montreal will forever hold a large part of Koivu’s heart. He married Hanna while he was a Canadien; daughter Ilona nearly 9 and son Aatos 7 were born during the couple’s time here.

It was with eagerness damp palms and a quickened pulse that Koivu returned with Anaheim for a game on Jan. 22 2011. He was quickly overwhelmed by a huge news conference that nearly brought him to tears then consumed by a tumultuous welcome at the Bell Centre including a ground-shaking ovation during the national anthems when his image filled the scoreboard.

“I expected the reaction would be good but you still never know” Koivu recalled. “I remember the press conference how nervous and emotional I was. It really hit me that I was back in Montreal.

“The warmup and the game — there were a few familiar faces in the stands then the reaction I got from the fans which really felt good and brought back a lot of good memories over the years that I experienced in Montreal.

“It was kind of nerve-racking in a positive way. I had a lot of butterflies not knowing what to expect and how things were going to go.”

He recalls the opening faceoff taking the draw against Canadiens centre Scott Gomez.

“(Gomez) said ‘You can have this I’m going to let you win this one’ ” Koivu said laughing. “I didn’t hear what he said. It was just as the referee was dropping the puck when I lifted my head to say ‘What?’ And then Scott won the faceoff. It was a funny little incident.”