Flames announce Miikka Kiprusoff's retirement
Veteran goalie spent 9 seasons with Calgary
The Calgary Flames will have a very different look in net for the upcoming season.
The Flames announced veteran goalie Miikka Kiprusoff's retirement from the National Hockey League on Monday in a press release, and the netminder said he felt very fortunate to have played for Calgary.
"It's an important decision for me personally, my family, the Flames organization and fans," Kiprusoff said in the release. "I’ve been very lucky to have spent 10 years of my career in Calgary. There is no better place to live and play. I look forward to taking the next year with my family to enjoy everything wonderful about southern Alberta."
The native of Turku, Finland spent nine seasons with the Flames and is the club's all-time leader in wins with 305, shutouts (41) and games played (576).
Kiprusoff, 36, had hinted he was ready to begin the next chapter of his life throughout the year and said he had advised general manager Jay Feaster of his plans and thanked him for his patience.
"I decided to retire at the end of last season," he said. "I appreciated Jay Feaster and the Flames organization permitting me to take the summer to be 100 per cent sure... Jay and I had conversations over the summer and nothing had changed for me and upon returning to Calgary last week, I once again spoke with Jay and confirmed with him that I would be retiring."
Feaster was appreciative of Kiprusoff's contributions while wearing a Flames uniform and said the goalie will go down as one of the best.
"Miikka Kiprusoff has been the backbone of the Calgary Flames since his arrival here in 2003, and every night for more than 70-nights per season, his magnificence between the pipes gave the team a chance to win," said Feaster. "He inspired hope and confidence, and he made those around him better players as a result of his brilliance.
"Miikka will take his place in the pantheon of great NHL goaltenders, and his place in Flames’ history is secure. He will be missed by players, teammates and fans, and we wish him all the best in his retirement."
He was acquired by the Flames from the Sharks for a second-round draft pick in 2003, and Calgary would reap the benefits by landing a player who would become their franchise goalie for the next decade.
Kiprusoff paid immediate dividends, leading the club to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004, registering 15 post-season wins that year and a stellar five shutouts.
He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy that season and won the award two years later after finishing the 2005-'06 campaign with a 42-20-11 record, a 2.07 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and a team record 10 shutouts.
The Flames have fallen on hard times in recent years, having missed the playoffs the last four seasons. Kiprusoff struggled last season with an 8-14-2 record, 3.44 GAA and .882 save percentage. Calgary finished 13th in the Western Conference with just 42 points.
Originally selected in the fifth round of the 1995 draft (115th overall) by the San Jose Sharks, the six-foot-one, 185-pound goalie has racked up a 319-213-64 record in 623 career regular-season games with the Sharks and Flames. He also has 44 shutouts for his career.
Calgary is in a rebuilding phase and recently hired former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke to head up its hockey operations.
With files from The Canadian Press