Kiprusoff deflects media queries about his future
Goalie still not announcing his retirement but expectations are Friday is his final game at the Saddledome
A crowded crease? That, he can live with.
A crowded stall? Not so much.
With Miikka Kiprusoff’s future a topic of lively debate — and with his last appearance, likely, at the Scotiabank Saddledome scheduled for Friday — he is getting more attention than usual.
And certainly more than he wants.
“You know, it is what it is,” the Calgary Flames goalie murmured to a clump of curious reporters invading his dressing-room space during a gruelling four-minute post-practice session Thursday morning. “I have my job to do here. It’s getting ready for a game again and talking with you guys.”
Is he caught off guard by the media’s sudden interest in his affairs?
“I’m not surprised at all, to be honest with you,” said Kiprusoff, chuckling. “I’ve been working with you guys for a long time, so I know you guys.”
Is it uncomfortable, though?
“No. It’s part of the job.”
Kiprusoff, 36, has one season remaining on a six-year contract.
Most observers anticipate that he’ll retire at the end of the season. But he efficiently defused every attempt for an update. One reporter, gamely, wondered if the final week of the schedule could affect his decision-making process. Not a nibble there, either.
“I don’t know,” Kiprusoff replied. “I’d have to think about that in the summer. We’ll see.”
Kiprusoff added, when questioned about handling the mounting pressure from the press, that he’ll make up his own mind — when he wants.
“I’m going to do what I think is best for me and everybody after the season.”
Prodded for a comment about how much he reflects on past teams here, on past players here, Kiprusoff chuckled.
“Not too much, actually,” he said. “It’s hockey. You always have new teammates. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been playing with lots of great guys.”
Even when asked to single out a highlight from his nine years in Calgary, Kiprusoff balked.
“To be honest, I’d like to talk about that a little bit later . . . not in the middle of still playing here,” he said. “I’d prefer to talk about that a little later.”
The man is right about one thing — it is not over quite yet.
Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, Kiprusoff suits up for his 306th career appearance at the Saddledome.
Adding to his franchise record, he’d picked up his 304th win for the Flames in Wednesday’s 3-2 decision over the Detroit Red Wings. In the dying seconds of a one-goal contest, he made a sensational glove save on Jakub Kindl’s whistling slapper, a feat that earned him a standing ovation.
“With the fans at each game, it’s an unbelievable feeling to play here,” said Kiprusoff. “It was fun (Wednesday). If we win, it’s usually fun for everybody.”
And while No. 34 doesn’t give a hoot about the spotlight, his boss understands why it’s being trained directly upon him.
“One way or another, (the attention is) well-deserved,” said coach Bob Hartley. “Looking at what Kipper did in past years for this organization, he’s been the face of this organization, a very important part of this organization. We’re playing our final home game (Friday). Whether that’s his last game or whether he comes back, it’s still the last game (in Calgary) of the regular season and he deserves to be in front of the net.”
Hartley added that Kiprusoff, as an elite netminder, can operate under heat. So no worries there.
“He loves to be in key situations,” said Hartley. “I believe you need to be a special person. I had the privilege to coach Patrick Roy. Those guys, they thrive on big games, on big moments, in key situations. I always challenge the players to win big games, win situations. But for Kipper, probably (Wednesday) and (Friday) are big games.
“There’s still uncertainty on his plans. We’re just trying to position him (so) that he can make the best possible decision. (Wednesday), it was a great game, a great performance on his side. He gave us a great win. (Friday), it’s a very similar challenge.”
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