I know what you are thinking, another goalie on the list, but when you look back at all the great goalies in Chicago Blackhawks history, Antti Niemi is only one of 5 starting goalies to ever hoist the Stanley Cup in franchise history.
If you are going by career numbers in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey, there is an argument that Niemi doesn’t deserve to be on this list.
Niemi’s regular season stats with the Chicago Blackhawks do not blow anyone’s mind. Niemi was 27-8-5 in 42 games in 2009-2010. Niemi did record 7 shutouts during his only full season with the Hawks.
Niemi wasn’t even supposed to be the starter during the 2009-2010 season. That distinction was supposed to be Cristobal Huet‘s. Huet played ok at the beginning of the season, but as the season got longer and longer it became evident that Huet wasn’t the backstop that would lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup.
I remember one NBC or NBCSN (or whatever they were called back then) telecast that Pierre McGuire stated that Huet wasn’t following the puck at all, and you know what the team started burying goals and it was pretty much the last time we saw Huet.
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Niemi took the bull by the horns and ran with it and he started every game during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs and went 16-6 on the way to winning the teams first Stanley Cup since 1961.
Of course, the Chicago Blackhawks were already deep into the salary cap abyss that they are in now, and so the decision basically came down to Niklas Hjalmarsson or Antti Niemi after Doug Wilson signed Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet.
At the time, people were concerned about losing a Stanley Cup winning goalie, but in the end sacrificing Niemi for Hjalmarsson was the right call by the Chicago Blackhawks front office.
Niemi has never had the success he had in Chicago although he had some good years in San Jose, and now he’s the backup in Pittsburgh.
Either way, he will always be the goalie that ended the drought in Chicago!
Only 73 more days until the NHL season starts up once again in Chicago… Are you ready!