‘It’s not just my moment tomorrow, it’s for the guys I played with’: Miikka Kiprusoff reflected on his jersey retirement

Photo credit:Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
On Saturday night, Miikka Kiprusoff will enter a rarefied level of Calgary Flames franchise lore when his jersey number is raised to the rafters of the Scotiabank Saddledome. On Friday, the typically reserved Finnish former netminder held court with local media to discuss what tended to be his least-favourite topic to discuss during his playing career: himself.
Kiprusoff noted that Saturday’s ceremony, with him in the spotlight, will be unique.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Kiprusoff. It’s a great honour and they’re going to have some great show there, and see the city go up there, so, yeah, I’ll try not to cry, but we’ll see.”
Kiprusoff was inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016. His acceptance speech, completely in keeping with his un-talkative nature, was 13 words long. He confirmed that his acceptance speech will be longer, but also added, “I did bring Noodles here for the funny and long one,” referencing his former backup netminder Jamie McLennan.
A theme of Kiprusoff’s discussion of his own excellence throughout his career was emphasizing how much his team helped him out.
“I had some games I played unreal and helped the team,” said Kiprusoff. “And it was other ways, too. Our team played unreal defence, like, whole year, too, and they really made me look good, too. It worked both ways.”
Kiprusoff’s tenure with the Flames began with a November 2003 trade from San Jose, where he was one of three goalies on their roster. He reflected on his arrival in Calgary.
“I was in San Jose and I knew I was going to get traded,” said Kiprusoff. “That was their plan. I went to training camp, and for me it took a little longer. I was training hard because I knew that I was going to get other chance and I have to be ready, like I have to. So I came here and I was excited. I talked with Darryl and he said if you play well you’re going to get games, you better be ready. For me, it was unreal. New chance, and work out well.”
Kiprusoff’s 2003-04 regular season was just 39 games – he missed a few weeks with a knee injury mid-season – but saw him post a 1.70 goals against average, at that point a modern record. He followed that up with a sterling performance in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs that saw him, and the club, fall a single win (and goal) short of a championship.
“I know I should say it was in because it was in,” said Kiprusoff, referencing Martin Gelinas’ Game 6 near-goal. “But I haven’t watched those games since. I haven’t watched any of those final games.”
Kiprusoff retired following the 2012-13 season, with his decision becoming finalized after that off-season.
“It was tough year and at that moment when I kind of have to decide what to do, I figured if my head is not 100% there it’s not worth it,” said Kiprusoff, later adding that he had no regrets about his decision to retire. “It’s not right for anybody to go like half. So I felt that was it then. I was done.”
While Kiprusoff noted it’s “great” to see former teammates like Craig Conroy and Jarome Iginla working in the Flames organization, praising both for their smarts, he stated he’s not interested in pursuing a job in hockey as he’s happy spending time with his family.
“I’m happy right now what I’m doing,” said Kiprusoff. “I’m enjoying time at home with my kids. I don’t want to do a job like 50%. I know if I take a job from hockey, it’s going to take lots of time to be good at what you’re doing. So right now I’m enjoying my time with family.”
When Kiprusoff was asked about his legacy and how he wanted to be remembered, he again emphasized his former teammates.
“I think I’m a team guy,” said Kiprusoff. “For me, it’s like even it’s my jersey going up there, I think it’s our team’s time. It’s not just my moment tomorrow, it’s for the guys I played with and helped me out a lot.”
Kiprusoff’s #34 will be formally retired on Saturday evening, prior to the game between the Flames and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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