CALGARY – After a summer of reflection, Miikka Kiprusoff decided to stick with his original plan.
The Calgary Flames goaltender announced his retirement from the NHL on Monday, a move that was expected by both the team and many of its fans.
The 36-year-old spent the last nine seasons with the Flames, including the club’s memorable run to the 2004 Stanley Cup final.
Kiprusoff said he made the decision at the end of last season, but took the summer to be “100 per cent sure.”
“It’s an important decision for me personally, my family, the Flames organization and fans,” Kiprusoff said in a 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.”
A native of Turku, Finland, Kiprusoff holds team records for wins (305), games played (576) and shutouts (41).
With the Flames well out of the playoff picture, the team discussed dealing the veteran netminder at last season’s trade deadline. Although he didn’t have a no-trade clause, Kiprosoff indicated that he would not report to another team if dealt.
The Toronto Maple Leafs pushed hardest to acquire his services but were unable to convince Kiprusoff to leave southern Alberta.
Calgary general manager Jay Feaster said Kiprusoff was adamant that he wanted to end his career with the Flames.
“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,” Feaster said. “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.”
Kiprusoff spent parts of three seasons with the San Jose Sharks before being dealt to Calgary for a second-round draft pick in November 2003. The deal would help shape the franchise for the next 10 years.
Kiprusoff finished that regular season with a modern-day NHL goals-against average record of 1.69 and continued his stellar play into the playoffs. He won 15 post-season games and had five shutouts while leading the Flames to within one victory of a Stanley Cup.
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 in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign with an 8-14-2 record, 3.44 GAA and .882 save percentage.
Calgary finished 13th in the Western Conference with just 42 points.
Despite the lack of team success later in his career, Kiprusoff’s numbers are still impressive. In 623 career regular-season games with Calgary and San Jose, he had a 319-213-71 record with a 2.49 GAA, a .912 save percentage and 44 shutouts. Kiprusoff also represented Finland at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“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,” Feaster said. “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.”
The Flames, who are in rebuilding mode, hired former Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke last week to be their president of hockey operations.