Miikka Kiprusoff is leaving the NHL and the Calgary Flames on his terms.
The veteran goalie announced his retirement on Monday after 12 NHL seasons, the last nine with the Flames - the club with which he wanted to finish his career.
The 36-year-old Kiprusoff, who began his career with the San Jose Sharks, joined the Flames in 2003 and helped lead them to the Stanley Cup finals the following year.
He made the decision to retire at the end of last season, but thought about it over the summer before making an official announcement that he was “100 per cent sure.”
“It’s an important decision for me personally, my family, the Flames organisation and fans,” Kiprusoff said in a release. “I’ve been very lucky to have spent 10 years of my career in Calgary. There is no better place to live and play.”
The native of Turku, Finland holds Flames records with 305 wins, 576 games played, and 41 shutouts.
With the Flames well out of playoff contention last season, the team discussed dealing Kiprusoff at the trade deadline.
Although he didn’t have a no-trade clause, Kiprusoff indicated he wouldn’t report to a new team if dealt. The Toronto Maple Leafs were unsuccessful in getting him to change his mind.
“Miikka has been up front with us since the trade deadline that he wanted to finish his outstanding playing career as a Flames player, and that the this year season was going to be his last,” Calgary general manager Jay Feaster said. “We, as an organisation, made it clear to Kipper that we did not want him to make a rash or hasty decision.
“We wanted to give him time to get refreshed during the summer and spend some additional time to make his decision.”
Kiprusoff made his NHL debut with San Jose in March 2001 after a two-season stint with Kentucky of the AHL. Kiprusoff spent parts of three seasons with San Jose before being traded to Calgary on Nov. 16, 2003, for a second-round draft pick.
That deal helped shape the Flames franchise for the next decade.
Kiprusoff finished the 2003-04 season with a modern day NHL goals-against average of 1.69 and carried his stellar play into the playoffs. He won 15 postseason games and had five shutouts while leading the Flames to within one victory of a Stanley Cup title.
He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s top goalie, that season and won the award two years later after finishing the 2005-06 campaign with a 42-20-11 record, a 2.07 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage, and a team record 10 shutouts.
The Flames have fallen on hard times in recent years, having missed the playoffs the last four seasons. Kiprusoff struggled last season with an 8-14-2 record, 3.44 GAA, and .882 save percentage. Calgary finished 13th in the Western Conference with 42 points.
In 623 career regular-season games with Calgary and San Jose, he went 319-213-71 with a 2.49 GAA and .912 save percentage.
“Miikka Kiprusoff has been the backbone of the Calgary Flames since his arrival here in 2003, and every night for more than 70 nights per season, his magnificence between the pipes gave the team a chance to win,” Feaster said. “He inspired hope and confidence, and he made those around him better players as a result of his brilliance.
“Miikka will take his place in the pantheon of great NHL goaltenders, and his place in Flames’ history is secure.”
The Flames, who are in a rebuilding mode, hired former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke last week to be their president of hockey operations.