After the story initially broke that Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff may be planning an early departure from the National Hockey League around late March of this year, the former #1 netminder seemed to confirm those rumours himself when he told Finnish national team head coach Erkka Westerlund on June 25 that he would be retiring.
Today, Kiprusoff and Flames GM Jay Feaster officially announced #34's retirement from the NHL. Feaster said that although Kiprusoff told the team that he was planning to retire following the 2013 season, he wanted to allow him additional time over the summer to confirm that leaving the NHL was still the right decision for him, and not a "hasty or rash" one.
Kiprusoff said in a statement that he "appreciated Jay Feaster and the Flames organization permitting [him] to take the summer to be 100% sure."
"Jay and I had conversations over the summer and nothing had changed for me upon returning to Calgary last week, I once again spoke with Jay and confirmed with him that I would be retiring," he told the Flames' official website.
Here is more of Kiprusoff's farewell statement (via flames.nhl.com):
"I've been very lucky to have spent 10 years of my career in Calgary. There is no better place to live and play. I look forward to taking the next year with my family to enjoy everything wonderful about southern Alberta."
"I have so many people to thank for their tremendous support including the Flames ownership group who always provide the team with every resource to be successful as well as creating a family environment for the players off the ice. To the staff who work so hard to make every game night special for the fans and most importantly, Flames fans who through good times and bad, our fans never left our side. And finally, my teammates for making it fun and rewarding to come to the rink everyday."
In his nearly ten years as a Calgary Flame, Kiprusoff backstopped his team to game seven of the Stanley Cup final, won both the Vezina and William M. Jennings trophies, and set franchise records for games played, wins in a season, shutouts in a season, overall shutouts and overall wins. The last year of his front loaded, six-year contract would have seen Kiprusoff earn just $1.5M in NHL salary.
Following Kiprusoff's retirement, only five goaltenders with 300+ wins remain active in the NHL: Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Nikolai Khabibulin, Evgeni Nabokov and Tomas Vokoun.
Despite a dismal end to his career as a Flame, I think we can all agree that Kipper will be dearly missed, and we here at M&G wish him the best in all his future endeavors.
Thanks for everything, Kipper!