On this day in 2003, the Calgary Flames acquired goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff
3 months ago
On this day in 2003, the Calgary Flames made a franchise-altering trade to acquire goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a second-round pick in 2005.
If there’s one thing former Flames general manager Darryl Sutter did right, it was trading for the Finnish third-string netminder from the San Jose Sharks.
When the 27-year-old touched down in Calgary, he was ready for a new opportunity to prove himself in the NHL after watching games from the Sharks press box for five weeks after losing the backup goaltending position to Vesa Toskala.
“It was a good day for me today,” declared the new Flames netminder to the Calgary Herald‘s Jean Lefebvre. “A tough five, six weeks or whatever it’s been. I knew I was going to get traded at some point, but you never know when or where.”
Although the newcomer hadn’t played an NHL game in weeks, he was getting thrown into a six-game homestand due to an injury to Roman Turek. Quickly, the goaltender adjusted to his new hockey home and established himself as the Flames No.1, posting outrageous numbers in his first 15 games with a 1.49 goals against average and .940 save percentage.
As the season unfolded, Kiprusoff would lead his new team to their first playoff appearance in eight years and to the 2003-04 Stanley Cup Finals, which resulted in a game-seven loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After seeing the success Kiprusoff brought to the club, the Flames began to rely heavily on the talents of the Finnish goaltender, and he soon became a staple to the franchise. His supreme performance didn’t falter as his time with the Flames continued, resulting in one of the best campaigns of his career with a 42-20-11 record in 2005-06 with a 2.07 GAA and .923 save percentage alongside a whopping 10 shutouts. His talents were recognized later that year when he was awarded the Vezina Trophy and the Jennings Trophy at the NHL awards.
He continued to battle to become the top goaltender in the NHL, and it became evident in 2008-09 when he led the league with 45 wins in 76 games.
Some may argue Kiprusoff began to decline in 2009-10, but he remained posting elite numbers. On February 8th, 2012, the netminder celebrated his 300th win in the place where it all began, defeating the Sharks in a 4-3 victory at HP Pavilion in San Jose. As the light began to dim on the 2012-13 season, Kiprusoff only made 24 appearances with a record of 8-14-2, primarily due to a knee injury near the start of the campaign.
With rumours swirling about possible retirement for the 36-year-old netminder during the Flames’ last home game on April 19th, 2014, with a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks just moments away, the sea of red at Scotiabank Saddledome stood and cheered with ‘Thank you Kipper’ signs high in the air the entire Calgary market said farewell to a legend. Kiprusoff officially announced his retirement in September of 2013 as the franchise leader in wins at 305, shutouts at 41, goals against average at 2.46, save percentage at .913, and games played by a goaltender at 576. The club will retire his iconic number 34 on March 2nd, 2024.
As for the Sharks, their second-round selection in 2005 resulted in defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He joined the club with a full-time roster spot in 2006-07, scoring three goals and 26 points. Vlasic embodied efficient puck-moving skills alongside profound patience in his play. In 2013 he became the fourth defenceman to play 500 games in the Sharks threads and on January 1st of 2023 he played his 1200 game as a Shark. The 2023-24 campaign marks the blueliner’s 18th season with the Sharks with 77 goals and 364 points throughout 1251 games.
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