Antti Niemi (ice hockey)
Niemi during his tenure with the Blackhawks in 2010
August 29, 1983 |
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight||210 lb (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)|
|San Jose Sharks
|Competitor for Finland|
Antti Niemi (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈɑntːi ˈniemi]; born August 29, 1983) is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender who is currently the starting goaltender for the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League. During the 2009–10 NHL season as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, he became the first Finnish goaltender to win the Stanley Cup. Niemi signed a contract to play for Pelicans Lahti in the SM-liiga in Finland during the 2012–13 NHL lockout.
Niemi played junior-level hockey for Kiekko-Vantaa from 1998 until 2005, where he also worked part-time as a Zamboni driver. He turned pro with the Pelicans of the Finnish SM-liiga in 2005, playing three seasons with the team. In November 2007, Niemi debuted for the Finnish national team. He signed with the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Assigned to Chicago's minor league affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, Niemi spent the majority of the 2008–09 season in the American Hockey League (AHL) alternating starts with Corey Crawford. In February 2009, he was called up to the Blackhawks as an injury replacement. He made his NHL debut on February 27, playing one period in a 5–4 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Niemi recorded his first NHL start and win several days later on March 1, a 4–2 victory versus the Los Angeles Kings.
Stanley Cup season with Chicago
The following season, Niemi made the Blackhawks lineup out of training camp. Niemi started the second game of a back-to-back season opener against the Florida Panthers in Helsinki. He stopped all 23 shots he faced against the Panthers earning his first NHL shutout in his native Finland on October 3, 2009. After a very respectable record of 26-7-4 during the regular season, Niemi was made the Blackhawks starting goaltender for the playoffs near the end of the 2009–10 NHL regular season and prior to the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, replacing Cristobal Huet. During Game 2, Niemi recorded a shutout victory against the Nashville Predators at United Center, making him the first Blackhawks goaltender since Ed Belfour in 1996 to record a postseason shutout. On April 22, 2010, Niemi stopped 33 shots to record his second shutout of the postseason, making him the first Chicago goaltender since Tony Esposito in 1974 to record two shutouts in one playoff series. On May 16, 2010, Niemi made 44 saves in a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Chicago ended up sweeping the series against San Jose in four games.
In only his second Stanley Cup finals game, Niemi made 32 saves, earning the Player of the Game honors from the National Hockey League. On June 9, 2010, Niemi led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship with a 4-3 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Niemi was the third Finnish goalie to make it to the Stanley Cup finals and the first ever to win the Cup.
Niemi filed for arbitration during the offseason, and was eventually awarded $2.75 million. Chicago officially walked away from the deal on August 2 because of salary cap restraints, and signed veteran goaltender Marty Turco from the Dallas Stars for $1.3 million.
San Jose Sharks
On September 2, 2010, Niemi officially signed a 1-year, $2 million contract with the San Jose Sharks. He made 30 saves in his first regular season victory with the Sharks, a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. After a poor start to the season, Niemi was platooned with fellow Finnish netminder Antero Niittymäki, but strong play in the month of February, which saw him go 14-2-1 with a 1.91 GAA and .924 save percentage, cemented him as the Sharks' starting goaltender. On March 1, 2011, Niemi signed a four-year contract extension with San Jose worth $15.2 million. His nickname with the Sharks is "Nemo".
In October 2012, Niemi signed a one-month contract with the Pelicans Lahti during the 2012–13 NHL lockout. In the 2012–13 NHL season, Niemi led the Sharks in goals against average with 2.16, while leading the NHL in minutes played with 2,581, tied for the league lead with 24 wins in 43 starts, along with finishing third in the NHL with 1,127 saves. On May 8, 2013 Niemi was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, but lost to Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Awards and achievements
- 2010 Stanley Cup (Chicago Blackhawks)
- 2013 THN Gilles Villemure Award (Best Shootout Goalie)
- Kiekko-Vantaa retired number.
|2010–11||San Jose Sharks||NHL||60||35||18||—||6||3524||140||6||2.38||.920|
|2011–12||San Jose Sharks||NHL||68||34||22||—||9||3936||159||6||2.42||.915|
|2012–13||San Jose Sharks||NHL||43||24||12||—||6||2581||93||4||2.16||.924|
|2010–11||San Jose Sharks||NHL||18||8||9||1,044||56||538||3.22||.896|
|2011–12||San Jose Sharks||NHL||5||1||4||318||13||151||2.45||.914|
|2012–13||San Jose Sharks||NHL||11||7||4||673||21||298||1.87||.930|
- "Fortunate phone call sparked Niemi's career". blackhawks.nhl.com. 28 May 2010. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- "Maalivahti Niemellä kelpo debyytti Leijonissa". MTV3 (in Finnish). 8 November 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- "In front of home crowd, goalie Niemi gives Blackhawks shutout". Associated Press. 2008-10-03. Archived from the original on 8 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "Antti Niemi posts Chicago Blackhawks' first playoff shutout since 1996". Chicago Tribune. 2010-04-18. Archived from the original on 22 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
- "Sharks Add Niemi". San Jose Sharks. 2 September 2010.
- "Niemi, Sharks blank Coyotes". WPTZ. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. "San Jose players call goaltender Antti Niemi "Nemo," and it is not hard to find him."
- Kurz, Kevin. "Niemi to Finland; Stuart's no-trade clause". csnbayarea.com. October 5, 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
- "2012-13 Season Infographic - 6/25/2013". San Jose Sharks. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013.