By Allan Muir
And now from the “Wait a minute . .. didn’t he already do this?” file: veteran netminder Miikka Kiprusoff made it official today by formally announcing his retirement after 12 seasons in the NHL.
“I decided to retire at the end of last season,” Kipper said in a statement released by the Calgary Flames. “I appreciated Jay Feaster and the Flames organization permitting me to take the summer to be 100 percent sure. It’s an important decision for me personally, my family, the Flames organization and fans. 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.”
“I’ve been very lucky to have spent 10 years of my career in Calgary,” Kiprusoff said.
“Miikka has been up-front with us since the trade deadline that he wanted to finish his outstanding playing career as a Flames player, and that the 2013 season was going to be his last,” said Feaster. “We, as an organization, made it clear to Kipper that we did not want him to make a rash or hasty decision. We wanted to give him time to get refreshed during the summer and spend some additional time to make his decision. Had we been prepared to accept Miikka’s position back in April we could have announced his retirement at the end of the season. We purposely chose to wait and give him more time to ensure this was the course he wanted to take. In returning to Calgary this month, he advised us that his decision remained the same, and that he was retiring as a player.
“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. 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.”
Kiprusoff spent the final nine seasons of his career with Calgary after spending parts of three years with San Jose. He leaves the game as the Flames’ all-time leader in wins (305), games played (576) and shutouts (41).
He’ll be best remembered for his spectacular play during the 2003-04 season when he set a modern-day record with a 1.69 goals-against average. He then led to Flames to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against Tampa Bay, notching five shutouts and 15 wins as Calgary fell just short of winning it all. He went on to win the Vezina and William Jennings trophies in 2006 as he established himself as one of the game’s high-end stoppers and a true workhorse.
With Brian Burke having come on board last week as director of hockey operations, the timing of the announcement is probably not coincidental. The Flames had already moved on internally, settling on Karri Ramo, Joey McDonald and Reto Berra to battle it out this season, but there was some lingering uncertainty over Kiprusoff’s status. While Feaster may have been willing to extend him the courtesy of taking his time, it seems likely that Burke decided enough was enough and asked for the decision to be finalized.