Kiprusoff nixed trade to Leafs after experiencing ‘doubts’ he should leave Calgary


Goalie remains with Flames, will sit down after season to decide whether to keep playing or retire

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff listens to a question during a press conference on Wednesday night.

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff listens to a question during a press conference on Wednesday night.

Photograph by: Stuart Gradon, Calgary Herald

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For nine years, Miikka Kiprusoff brought Calgary Flames fans out of their seats with jaw-dropping saves that left people wondering how in the world that just happened.

For nine years, the sensational play of Miikka Kiprusoff perhaps too often camouflaged the sins of the 18 guys in front of him.

But in these the twilight days of his storied career, questions loom large in these parts over the legacy of No. 34.

Is he a hero after (literally) saving the day for the better part of a decade on a team with serious defensive deficiencies?

Or is he a villain for spurning a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs that would have seen the Flames receive at least something in return for the former Vezina Trophy winner?

Did the love affair between an all-star goalie and a city cease Wednesday at 1 p.m. MT as the NHL trade deadline passed for another season.

“I sure hope not,” says general manager Jay Feaster. “If you take a step and look back and say, ‘this guy has been pretty good for this organization.’ And I think the world of him. I love the competitor that he is.

“This has been a hard time.”

A hard time for Kiprusoff. A hard time for his employer. And a hard time for Calgary Flames fans digesting the sorry state of their hockey team.

As it turns out, Feaster pulled Kiprusoff aside — along with Jay Bouwmeester and Jarome Iginla — in separate, private discussions during a mid-March road trip to California. Those talks led to the eventual Iginla trade to Pittsburgh and Bouwmeester move to St. Louis.

In Kiprusoff’s case, the 36-year-old’s no-trade clause expired last summer. So on paper, the Finnish netminder appeared the easiest chip to ship to a contender in exchange for prospects or draft picks.

But word broke last week that, in the event of a trade, Kiprusoff would simply refuse to report to a new team with one year remaining on a six-year deal.

“We all know I did talk with the Leafs,” Kiprusoff said Wednesday night. “You know another team wants you, and I was thinking a lot about it. And I got that feeling, doubts, that it was the right thing to do to go there.

“If you start second-guessing . . . I don’t think it’s right for the Leafs, if my heart is not 100 per cent in it.”

Under the terms of his contract, Kiprusoff’s cap hit is set to remain at $5.83 million next season, but he’ll make $1.5 million should he choose to report in 2013/14.

“I’ve been doing lots of thinking the last few days,” Kiprusoff said. “I ended up this morning talking to Jay Feaster and I told him for me, I would love to stay here and finish off the season as a Flame.”

The rebuilding Flames could have dealt Kiprusoff to Toronto against his wishes in a conditional deal for picks and/or prospects.

Instead, they let the matter drop.

“We talked as an organization and said that we felt that it was appropriate to honour that request,” Feaster said. “We’re going to keep Miikka Kiprusoff here. He’s a member of the Calgary Flames. He will continue with us through the end of the season.”

By his standards, Kiprusoff’s numbers this season are downright deplorable with a goals-against-average of 3.64 and a save percentage of .868.

He received the hook in both of his last two appearances, including a stinker Monday night in Edmonton that saw him surrender three goals on the first five shots.

“It’s been a pretty tough last few weeks,” Kiprusoff conceded. “But I’m not going to use that as an excuse. I haven’t played well, and I know I have to pick up my game.

“But I’m pretty happy this is over now, and I can play hockey again.”

When asked if he wants to win a Stanley Cup, Kiprusoff replied in the affirmative.

“That’s been my dream since I was a little boy, and it still is.”

Does he plan to retire?

“Well, I think I’m going to finish up the season and we’re going to sit down with the Flames after that, and we’ll go from there.”

Kiprusoff has clearly not been himself in recent weeks with a new baby at home and his name swirling in trade rumours. According to Feaster, Kiprusoff’s wife Seidi experienced complications during her pregnancy. The baby arrived two weeks early and stayed in hospital for a time after Seidi was discharged.

According to Kiprusoff, all is now good at home with mom, baby Oskar and big brother Aaro.

“The reality of it is that there are a lot of difficult circumstances,” Feaster said. “Here’s a player who said, ‘I want to be here.’ I think there’s something noble in that, too.

“I understand we all get emotional. Fans certainly have that right to get emotional.

“I would just hope fans, the more that they look at it, they’ll say, ‘you know what? That’s pretty first-class guy who wants to be here and is still committed to the Flaming C.”

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff listens to a question during a press conference on Wednesday night.

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff listens to a question during a press conference on Wednesday night.

Photograph by: Stuart Gradon, Calgary Herald

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