Today marks a big day in Calgary Flames history. It was November 16, 2003 that the Flames made a deal with the San Jose Sharks to bring Miikka Kiprusoff to Calgary.
At the time, Kipper was competing with Vesa Toskala for the back-up role in San Jose behind starter Evgeni Nabakov. Toskala would take the back-up spot which did not sit well with Kiprusoff. Miikka didn’t play a single game the whole first quarter of the season.
The Flames would make a deal with the Sharks to acquire Kipper in exchange for a 2nd Round draft pick. Kiprusoff would be reunited with former Sharks Head Coach Darryl Sutter who was now the Flames bench boss. Four days into his stint with the Flames, Kiprusoff would make 22 saves in his debut, beating the Montreal Canadiens for his first win as a Flame.
Over the stretch between November 20th and December 29th, Kiprusoff gave up one goal or less in eleven games before suffering a medial collateral ligament sprain at the end of December. Kiprusoff would miss four weeks due to the injury, however came back as strong as ever, leading the Flames into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in eight years. The playoff clincher came with Kipper shutting-out the Phoenix Coyotes 1-0 at the Dome to which fans gave him a standing ovation.
Kiprusoff finished the 2003-04 season with a modern era record low Goals Against Average of just 1.69 and his stellar play didn’t stop there. Kiprusoff would go through the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs winning 15 games (actually 16, but we won’t go there again) and earning 5 shut-outs along the way. Kipper would take the Flames to the brink of winning the Stanley Cup, only to have their hearts ripped out by a bad call and Ruslan Fedotenko in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning would go on to win the cup, but Kiprusoff would earn himself a pay increase of about four times what he was making in San Jose.
That end of the season and playoff run in 2004 would help cement Miikka Kiprusoff’s name into Calgary Flames history forever alongside Mike Vernon as one of the Flames greatest goalies ever.
Kiprusoff would play in 576 games as a Calgary Flame, winning 386 for a winning percentage of 67%. He finished with a 0.913 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.46 as a Flame. He was also nominated as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in seven of his nine seasons with the Flames, winning it once in 2006. He was also nominated for the Hart Trophy three times in those nine seasons.