Skip to main content

Antero Niittymaki Retires

Antero Niittymaki's retirement announcement did not catch a lot of headlines here in North America. But the veteran of 234 NHL games played will still very much be involved in the National Hockey League.

Niittymaki has been named as a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers. He will continue to live in his native Finland while serving as a European scout. He has not been hired to scout only goalies, but all skaters as well.

Chronic hip injuries have forced the 32 year old Niittymaki off of the ice. He actually had hip replacement surgery and tried continuing his career with two seasons in the top Finnish league. But ultimately the daily grind and the wear and tear was too much for Niittymaki's hip.

The recurring hip problems prevent Niittymaki from ever becoming a dominant NHL goalie that I think he was capable of being.

Niittymaki certainly made quite the statement in 2006 regarding how capable he was as an elite goaltender. With Miikka Kiprusoff and Kari Lehtonen injured, Niittymaki was a surprise starter for Finland at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics. He went on to put forth one of the most amazing Olympic hockey tournaments in recent memory. He was named as the tournament's MVP and top goaltender as he led Finland to undefeated record until the gold medal game which they dropped to Sweden.

In the NHL he played briefly with Tampa Bay and San Jose but was best known in Philadelphia where he played the bulk of his career. Originally drafted by the Flyers in the sixth round (No. 168 overall) of the 1998 NHL entry draft, he joined the Flyers in 2003-04. The previous season he backstopped the Flyers farm team, the Philadelphia Phantoms, to the AHL championship.

Niittymaki played 161 games for the Flyers. His career totals included a .902 save percentage and 2.95 GAA in 234 games. His record in that time was 95-86-31 with 5 shutouts.

“I always liked it there [in Philadelphia],” Niittymaki said. “I had a great seven years there. I kind of grew up with the organization in the minors and then got a chance in the NHL. I was able to kind of get my name out there with the Flyers and I always felt that was my team. That organization was closest to me. I like the way the organization works and all the people there and everything about it. It’s where I always wanted to be. “To have a chance to work with them, I love that. I never even thought about calling anybody else.”


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M