Chicago Sun-Times

Niemi is the newest Finn in the Shark tank

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Former Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi officially became the newest member of the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Niemi signed a one-year deal for $2 million, which is $750,000 less than his arbitration award that the Hawks walked away from.

Niemi will compete with fellow Finnish goalie Antero Niittymaki, who signed a two-year deal with the Sharks on July 1, for the top spot. It should be a familiar position for Niemi, who usurped Cristobal Huet for the Hawks' No. 1 job in net.

Here are some of the highlights from Niemi's conference call Thursday with Sharks GM Doug Wilson:

ANTTI NIEMI >>>>

On how soon the Sharks contacted him after the Hawks decided to walk away from his arbitration award:

"It was pretty soon like a week or something like that."

On joining the Sharks:

"I thought for me it was really important to [be with] a really good team and also a really good organization. They really wanted me there too. It wasn't too hard a decision."

"I really think their style, how they play and how good they are, it's going to be a perfect for me."

On playing the Hawks four times this season:

"I think it's going to be for sure the most exciting games of the regular season next year."

DOUG WILSON >>>>

On the speculation that the offer sheet for Niklas Hjalmarsson was actually an attempt to get Niemi:

"No. We looked at players that can help our team. With [longtime NHL defenseman] Rob Blake retiring and us making a decision on [Evgeni Nabokov], those were two of the areas we were looking at. The offer we made to Hjalmarsson was basically a very fair offer. The compensation would have been a first round and third round pick. It was a flat offer at [four years at $3.5 million each year]. They had a decision to make.

"It should be a complement. We liked their player. We also like this goaltender. My job is to put the best team on ice we can here in San Jose all within the rules, which we did. To connect the two, I'll leave that up to other people to speculate or make comments on that, but that's not the case."

On the Sharks' goaltending:

"We liked our goaltending as of yesterday and we like it even more today. When a player like this becomes available and he wants to come to your team, especially on a contract we feel fits our salary structure and you don't have to give up anything to get him, you just have to make it happen. We're very pleased with our goaltending unit. We feel we made ourselves a better hockey team."

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2 Comments

Dont ever let Doug Wilson anywhere near a Blackhawks Convention, Ambassadorship, retired number, autograph signing, anything---he's done more to try and undermine the team that was so good to him than any other single GM in the game. Stay West DougiE...whatever you did here once is so now long forgotten so are you. You're a Shark DougiE. Retire to the SharkTank. The Jarmer bogus offer you cooked up cost this Team good players---you knew it wasnt a serious offer. I"ll hand it to you you outwitted little Bowman, but dont ever expect to be welcome back here. You wont be. Persona non gratis.

Niemi had a nice run in the playoffs, but he's not exactly the next coming of Tony Esposito.

He's gone, we have a good proven goalie signed, the sharks still got swept and we won the STANLEY FRICKIN CUP!

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times for more than four years, covering the Hawks, Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.

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