Miikka Sakari Kiprusoff
Born October 26, 1976 (age 34) in Turku, Finland
Goaltender for the Calgary Flames
It goes without saying that Kiprusoff’s been in the game for a pretty long time. He started out in the TPS Turku club of his hometown and played there for two years before getting drafted in 1995 by San Jose. Though he was drafted at that time, he spent four more years playing over in Europe, including two over in Sweden’s Elitserien. In 1999, he came Stateside and went to the Sharks’ affiliate at that time, the Kentucky Thoroughblades. Two stellar years in Lexington earned him a call-up to San Jose in 2001. When the Sharks were in the 2001 playoffs, Kiprusoff became the first Finnish-born goalie to win a playoff game. His first shutout was a January 2002 6-0 effort against Florida. He struggled in the 2002-03 season, having a very bad GAA at one point and then getting a knee injury while the Sharks were negotiating with their other goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. They offered him a year’s extension, but he was the third goalie after that and was traded to Calgary in November 2003.
Kiprusoff helped Calgary get its first playoff berth in eight years: the 2004 run in which they quite nearly beat Tampa Bay but lost in six. Of course, right after that was the Year That Never Was, so he went back to Sweden at that time but quickly returned to Calgary once things were back in order. Overall great performances led Calgary to give him a contract keeping him up there until 2013-14. He started wondering if he was playing too much and if it was taking a toll on him, so he made some changes, hiring a personal trainer and training a lot more during offseason. Again he struggled a bit at the start of 2010-11, admitting that he wasn’t at his best, so he put nose to grindstone: 250th game as a Flame, first goaltender to shutout an outdoors game (4-0 against the Habs at the Heritage Classic), first goalie in 25 years to stop two penalty shots in a game (a 4-3 victory against Columbus), a 37-24-6 record, 6 shutouts, 2.63 GAA, .906% save percentage. Not bad. He also was on Team Finland for the 2010 Olympics (after refusing to join the team in 2006 and getting called out for it by Teemu Selanne), helping bring home the bronze.
Better yet, he’s a quality kind of guy. He donates $10 for every save he makes to the Rainbow Society of Alberta, which is like the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He’s racked up more than $18,000 for the worthy cause so far.