This coming May is the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Flames moving to Calgary. To commemorate this occasion, we’re counting down the Top 40 Calgary Flames in history.
#6 on the countdown is Miikka Kiprusoff.
Kiprusoff was quite the goaltender. Originally San Jose’s third goaltender stuck behind Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala for playing time, an injury to Roman Turek led to the Flames acquiring him in early November 2003. (The team had tried out Jamie McLennan and Dany Sabourin, then jumped on Kiprusoff when the results were fairly so-so.)
Immediately, Kiprusoff made the move look quite smart. He set the modern NHL goals against average record in his first season – 1.69, since broken by Brian Elliott in 2011-12) – and basically stood on his head as the Flames marched to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final. After the lockout, Kiprusoff became the first (and only) Flames goaltender to win the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder.
Kiprusoff played nine seasons with the Flames. They made the playoffs in five of those seasons and he finished top 10 in Vezina voting in seven of those seasons. That’s consistency. He was a workhorse, starting 70+ games in seven consecutive seasons. He was a fantastic goalie until time finally caught up with him in 2012-13 (at 36 years old) and he came crashing back down to Earth.
Mike Vernon went to two Stanley Cup Finals and won a ring, but look at the murderer’s row of future Hall of Famers and perennial Hall contenders he had in front of him. Kiprusoff arguably did more with less, back-stopping a much leaner modern Flames group and giving them a chance to win virtually every night.
Kiprusoff is #6 on our list.
Arrival: Traded from San Jose for 2005 second round pick (November 16, 2003)
Departure: Retired (Spring 2013)
Awards: 2005-06 Vezina Trophy winner; 2005-06 First Team All-Star; 2005-06 William Jennings Trophy winner
Top 40 Calgary Flames: HM Martin Gelinas | HM Al Coates | HM Bob Johnson | HM Darryl Sutter | HM Cliff Fletcher | #40 Brad Marsh | #39 Matt Stajan | #38 Jiri Hudler | #37 Dion Phaneuf | #36 Guy Chouinard | #35 Phil Housley | #34 Matthew Tkachuk | #33 Cory Stillman | #32 Curtis Glencross | #31 Jamie Macoun | #30 Carey Wilson | #29 Reggie Lemelin | #28 TJ Brodie | #27 Alex Tanguay | #26 Daymond Langkow | #25 Sergei Makarov | #24 Craig Conroy | #23 Robert Reichel | #22 Paul Reinhart | #21 Doug Gilmour | #20 Mikael Backlund | #19 Jim Peplinski | #18 Joel Otto | #17 Tim Hunter | #16 Joe Mullen | #15 Sean Monahan | #14 Robyn Regehr | #13 Mike Vernon | #12 Kent Nilsson | #11 Hakan Loob | #10 Lanny McDonald | #9 Johnny Gaudreau | #8 Gary Roberts | #7 Gary Suter