July 30, 2023

Markus Nutivaara

Born on June 6, 1994, in Oulu, Finland. Markus Nutivaara was known for a defensive defenseman for his 275 game NHL career. A hip injury put an end to his playing days prematurely.

Nutivaara worked his way up the junior ranks in his home country before breaking into Finland’s top league in 2014-15. He won a Liiga title with Karpat that year and was also noticed by National Hockey League scouts. He was drafted 189th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Nutivaara spent one more year with Karpat before heading to North America, where he would make it as a full-time NHLer as a rookie. He got into 66 games for Columbus and played over 13 minutes a night as a 22-year-old blueliner.

He would go on to play two more seasons as a regular for Columbus, peaking in 2018-19 when he averaged nearly 18 minutes of time on ice per night and scored 21 points. He was on the Blue Jackets team that achieved a historic upset series sweep over the at-the-time record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nutivaara joined the Florida Panthers for just 31 games, starting 2020. That is when the hip injury derailed his career. He played only one game in 2021-22, and no games in 2022-23 before having to hang up his skates.

In spite of the debilitating injury, Nutivaara always kept his career in perspective.

My goal for my career was to play one game in Oulu Kärpi. Anything on top of that would be a bonus. It went quite well," he chuckled with the Finnish media.

Markus Nutivaara retired with 17 goals, 54 assists and 71 points in 275 NHL games. He also played in the 2018 World Championships.

"The goal for my career was to play one game for Oulu Karpi. Anything on top of that would be a bonus. It went quite well," he chuckled to Finnish media.

Nutivaara tried his best to take the hip injury in stride.

"I was able to pull through one shift at full strength, but after that I had to suffer the rest of the game with pain. This went on for a long time. The hip has been operated twice. Attempts were made to repair the osteoarthritis and implant new cartilage. During the last season, the doctors said that they can't help anymore."

"Then the back started to fail and there were other problems when the hip did not recover. I skated on one leg for three years."

In my last year in Columbus, I took a lot of painkillers, but after that I decided that I would no longer operate with them. I made a decision that if the pain is too bad, I will stay away from the games and start rehabbing. You should be careful with these."

His last season may have been the toughest. Not only did he not play, but he had just signed with San Jose. He never felt like part of the team. 

"When you're injured, you're out of the team and trying to stay out of the way. With two years out of the way, going to the hall becomes difficult. In San Jose, it was already really difficult, after all, a new team and stuff.

"I still have to give a big thank you to the entire San Jose organization, how they welcomed me there and also took these mental things into account. I couldn't give much, but I got a lot myself."

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