Vesa Toskala

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Vesa Toskala
Vesa Toskala.jpg
Toskala with the Calgary Flames in 2011
Born (1977-05-20) May 20, 1977 (age 37)
Tampere, Finland
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 198 lb (90 kg; 14 st 2 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Played for Ilves Tampere
Färjestad BK
San Jose Sharks
Toronto Maple Leafs
Calgary Flames
AIK IF
National team  Finland
NHL Draft 90th overall, 1995
San Jose Sharks
Playing career 1995–2012

Vesa Tapani Toskala (born May 20, 1977) is a former professional ice hockey goaltender.

After initially playing for his hometown team in Ilves of the SM-liiga, he played the majority of his career in the National Hockey League for the San Jose Sharks, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Calgary Flames.

Early career[edit]

Toskala was selected by San Jose in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft (4th round, 90th overall). Toskala turned heads with his stellar play in the 1998–99 season with Ilves of the SM-liiga, where he went 21-12-0, had a 2.14 goals against average with a 0.916 save percentage, and posted five shutouts. The next season, playing a style that modeled after Markus Korhonen, Toskala played with Färjestad BK of the Swedish Elitserien and posted an impressive 2.59 GAA. Toskala considered quitting hockey to attend school full-time, until the San Jose Sharks enticed him to North America.[citation needed]

Toskala is the only San Jose Sharks goalie to record a multiple point game. He had two assists against Chicago on February 3, 2007.

North American career[edit]

In his first North American season in 2000–01, he played for the Kentucky Thoroughblades of the AHL. Splitting time with second-year-pro Kiprusoff, he played 44 games, going 22-13-5 with a 2.77 GAA and a 0.911 save percentage, quickly adapting to the North American game and played three games for Kentucky in the playoffs. The next year, after the team's move to Cleveland, he took over the starting role after Kiprusoff was recalled to San Jose, and in 62 games went 19-33-7 with a 2.99 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage. That season, he led the league in games played and saves made (1,845). When Kiprusoff fell to injury, Toskala was called up to back-up Evgeni Nabokov. Toskala received ten minutes of playing time in his first stint in the NHL, where he stopped the two shots he faced.

San Jose Sharks[edit]

In the 2002–03 NHL season, Nabokov and San Jose could not settle on a contract and Toskala served as Kiprusoff's backup. When Kiprusoff faltered, Toskala stepped in and played admirably, going 4-3-1 with a 2.35 GAA and a 0.927 save percentage. He earned his first shutout in a 25-save-effort against the Detroit Red Wings. When Nabokov was re-signed, Toskala was sent back to Cleveland, and he struggled going 15-30-2, with a 3.21 GAA and a 0.903 save percentage. Nonetheless, the Sharks brass remembered Toskala's stellar play in the big league, and at the end of the season, they recalled Toskala, meaning the Sharks now had three goaltenders on their roster. Since Nabokov was the established starter, Kiprusoff and Toskala fought for the backup position, and Toskala won the battle when Kiprusoff was traded to the Calgary Flames. While Kiprusoff enjoyed tremendous success in Calgary, leading them to the Stanley Cup finals, some experts believed that Toskala could be even better. Although while playing in 28 games, and going 12-8-4 with a 2.06 GAA and a 0.930 save percentage, Toskala did not play in the playoffs.

2005–06 proved to be a career year for Toskala. He began as the backup to Nabokov, but after a start on February 8, he posted a record of 17-2-2 leading to a Stanley Cup playoff berth for the Sharks. Toskala's goals-against-average fell from 3.25 to 2.55, while his save percentage increased from 0.872 to .900. This earned him the nickname "The Finnish Horse" from Shark's broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky. Toskala's play earned him several accolades and relegated Nabokov to the role of backup goaltender. On February 27, the Sharks resigned Toskala to a two-year contract extension worth US$2.75 million. Toskala finished the playoffs with 2.45 goals-against-average and a 0.910 save percentage.

Since both Toskala and Nabokov were seen as number one goalies, the Sharks attempted to trade one or the other before the season began. No trade occurred, and Ron Wilson opted to alternate starts between Toskala and Nabokov. Through 71 games, Toskala played in 35 games, starting 31 and posting a 2.45 GAA, along with 3 shutouts. Nabokov got the nod after that, and played in San Jose's remaining regular season and playoff games.

Toronto Maple Leafs[edit]

On June 22, 2007 NHL Entry Draft weekend, Sharks Doug Wilson traded Toskala and forward Mark Bell to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the club's 2007 1st (13th overall, Lars Eller) and 2nd round draft picks, both of which were later traded to the St. Louis Blues, as well as Toronto's 4th round pick in 2009, which was eventually traded to the Nashville Predators.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Toskala to a two year contract. He and Andrew Raycroft shared starts until late November, when Toskala's GAA and save percentage improved dramatically. He recorded two shutouts in December, and the NHL named him best goaltender of the month.

On March 18, 2008 in a match against the New York Islanders, Toskala suffered an embarrassing blunder. On a Leafs power play, Rob Davison of the Islanders attempted to clear the puck out of his defensive zone. The shot was taken from 174 feet, and bounced 5 times before bouncing over Toskala's glove and into the net. It was only Davison's third goal in 187 career games.[1]

In the 2009 NHL regular season opener on October 9, 2008, the official scoresheet between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings listed Vesa Toskala as the Maple Leafs captain.[2] Coach Ron Wilson stated that the scoresheet was a mistake.[2][3]

On March 4, 2009, Toskala announced that he would be undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn acetabular labrum. The Maple Leafs claimed goalie Martin Gerber off of re-entry waivers to replace him.[4] For the first game of the following season on October 1, 2009, Toskala was the Maple Leafs starting goaltender in an overtime loss to Montreal. Toskala would lose his first four starts before being replaced as the Leafs' starting goaltender.

Calgary Flames[edit]

Toskala was traded to the Anaheim Ducks along with Jason Blake for Jean-Sébastien Giguère on January 31, 2010,[5]

The Ducks traded Toskala to the Calgary Flames for backup Curtis McElhinney right before the NHL trade deadline on March 3, 2010, having never appeared in net for the Ducks during his short stay.[6][7] He was reunited with his former Sharks teammate Miikka Kiprusoff in Calgary. On March 7 in his first game as a Flame, Toskala stopped 27 shots en route to a 5-2 victory. In his second game, he backstopped the Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. On June 6, 2010, it was revealed by Flames GM Darryl Sutter, that Toskala would not return with the Flames for the 2010-11 season.

AIK IF[edit]

On November 1, 2010, due to AIK IF of the Elitserien (SEL) suffering from injuries, Toskala signed a one-month contract with the club. Playing in two games, he posted a .898 save percentage and 3.07 goals against average.[8]

Ilves and retirement[edit]

In June 2011, Toskala signed a contract to return to his hometown team Ilves for the 2011–12 season. With a decline in form and lingering injury at seasons end, Toskala retired from hockey on October 2, 2012.[9]

Personal life[edit]

He spent two years in Finland training to be a chef, although he claims that he was not particularly good.[10]

Awards[edit]

  • 2001–02: The Hockey News AHL Mid-Season All-Rookie Team
  • NHL Goaltender of the Month - December 2007

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP W L T/OT MIN GA SO GAA SV% GP W L MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1995–96 Ilves Tampere FNL 37 14 14 7 2073 109 1 3.16 2 0 2 78 11 0 8.46
1996–97 Ilves Tampere FNL 40 22 12 5 2270 108 0 2.85 8 3 5 479 29 0 3.63
1997–98 Ilves Tampere FNL 43 26 13 3 2554 118 1 2.77 9 6 3 519 18 1 2.08
1998–99 Ilves Tampere FNL 33 21 12 0 1966 70 4 2.14 4 1 3 248 14 0 3.39
1999–00 Färjestad BK SEL 44 2652 118 3 2.67 .887 7 439 19 0 2.60
2000–01 Kentucky Thoroughblades AHL 44 22 13 5 2466 114 2 2.77 .911 3 0 3 197 8 0 2.44 .928
2001–02 San Jose Sharks NHL 1 0 0 0 10 0 0 0.00 1.00
2001–02 Cleveland Barons AHL 62 19 33 7 3574 178 3 2.99 .912
2002–03 Cleveland Barons AHL 49 15 30 2 2824 151 1 3.21 .903
2002–03 San Jose Sharks NHL 11 4 3 1 537 21 1 2.35 .927
2003–04 San Jose Sharks NHL 28 12 8 4 1541 53 1 2.06 .930
2004–05 Ilves Tampere FNL 3 0 1 2 186 8 0 2.58 .930 6 3 3 357 19 0 3.19 .919
2005–06 San Jose Sharks NHL 37 23 7 4 2039 87 2 2.56 .901 11 6 5 686 28 1 2.45 .910
2005–06 Cleveland Barons AHL 1 0 0 1 65 0 1 0.00 1.00
2006–07 San Jose Sharks NHL 38 26 10 1 2142 84 4 2.35 .908
2007–08 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 33 25 6 3837 175 3 2.74 .904
2008–09 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 53 22 17 11 3056 166 1 3.26 .891
2009–10 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 26 7 12 3 1393 85 1 3.66 .874
2009–10 Calgary Flames NHL 6 2 0 0 212 8 0 2.26 .918
2010–11 AIK IF SEL 2 0 2 0 120 6 0 3.07 .898
2011–12 Ilves Tampere FNL 22 1 15 5 1242 71 1 3.43 .885
FNL totals 178 84 67 22 10290 484 8 2.82 29 13 16 1681 91 1 3.25
NHL totals 266 129 82 32 14767 679 13 2.76 .902 11 6 5 686 28 1 2.45 .910

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Toskala blunder gifts Islanders goal". National Hockey League. 2008-03-18. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  2. ^ a b Vesa Toskala Captain? Luke Schenn Faces True Test Against Canadiensbleacherreport.com, retrieved on November 10, 2008.
  3. ^ Captain Vesa? Er, not quiteTheStar.com, retrieved on November 10, 2008.
  4. ^ Leafs Players Done for the Season Yahoo Sports, March 10, 2009
  5. ^ "Ducks trade Jean-Sebastien Giguere to Toronto". Los Angeles Times. January 31, 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "DUCKS SEND TOSKALA TO FLAMES FOR MCELHINNEY". TSN. March 3, 2010. Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "Ducks Acquire McElhinney from Calgary". March 3, 2010. Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  8. ^ Vesa Toskala's career statistics at EliteProspects.com
  9. ^ "Vesa Toskala announces career over" (in Finnish). iltasanomat.fi. 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2012-10-02. 
  10. ^ O'Connor, Joe (2008-04-02). "Leafs notebook: Sundin sits, Toskala cooks". National Post. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 

External links[edit]