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Antti Niemi Archives

Niemi expected to return as a Blackhawk with $2.75 million salary

antti niemi 3.jpg


In a summer of losses, the Chicago Blackhawks skated away with a minor victory during convention weekend after an arbitrator reportedly awarded goaltender Antti Niemi a one-year salary of $2.75 million.  The Hawks championship netminder was seeking in excess of $3 million after an NHL rookie campaign that ended with the Finn hoisting the Stanley Cup overhead.  Had Niemi and his agent been more successful in turning a short resume into gold, it would have been his ticket out of town.  But with his salary set below the $3 million mark, it is widely believed general manager Stan Bowman will elect to bring Niemi back for one more campaign.

As of late Saturday afternoon, Bowman had yet to comment on the arbitrator's decision as the club prepares for a nightime celebration at the Chicago Hilton & Towers.

I'd imagine the GM is slightly relieved that the dollar value is one that is workable within the Blackhawks cap restraints, but don't expect a gleeful reaction.  At $2.75 million, it's still not a sure thing that Niemi will return.  Bowman has 48 hours to decide if the Finn will be back, or the young GM can trade the goalie or outright release him.  Because of the favorable dollar value, I highly doubt Bowman will allow Niemi to hit the open market.  And the trade market would most likely return a mid-level draft pick.

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Blackhawks continue to win ugly, beating Atlanta 5-4 in shootout

Blackhawks broadcaster Pat Foley was so unfamiliar with Andy Niemi starting in goal for a third straight game, he mentioned three times within a couple minutes that it was Cristobal Huet holding the fort in the first period Saturday night against Atlanta at United Center.

So what we learned was that it matters not whether it's Huet or Niemi when the team isn't totally focused on the business at hand. The Blackhawks gave up a two-goal lead with a terrible second period, falling behind 4-3 and setting themselves up for a letdown.

 But for the second straight game, Niemi was great in the shooutout and the Hawks escaped with a lucky 5-4 shootout win. Niemi stopped all five shots in his previous shootout effort. This time Niemi only needed to stop the first three Thrashers as Jonathan Toews scored first in the shootout to provide the margin of victory.

Marian Hossa was driven from the ice by a Colby Armstrong check to his left shoulder and head. We'll have to see how serious it is and whether Hossa can play for Slovakia during the Olympics. It doesn't appear to be super serious, but we'll see about that, too.

Dave Bolland scored for the first time in his five games since returning from back surgery. That third-period goal, when Bolland stayed patient on goalie Ondrey Pavelec and carried a play past him before jamming the puck into an open net, evened the score at 4. Atlanta got fixated on the puck coming down the right side and left Bolland free on the left side and the Hawks often find the open man when that happens.

Pavelec, however, was sensational in the third period and overtime. The Hawks pressured him enough that they should have beaten either in regulation or overtime. Just shows how hard it is to win when you let a team back in the game and try to turn on your aggression again.

You can argue the Hawks dominated play much of the game. But unless they give a full effort, it shows again that winning isn't very easy for them when they pick and choose when they are going to pay attention.

As long as they win this way, though, they are going to think that's enough.

"They are not showing their true quickness," WGN analyst Steve Konroyd said during the second intermission.

In other words, using plainer language, they were floating, figuring half-speed was enough to take out the Trash.  Bad call and another example of how the Hawks have been trying for a while to get by with half-measures.

They can't continue these bad habits after the Olympic break.

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Handy Andy ready to back up Huet--and replace him if needed

antti.jpgBefore too long, I believe we simply will be calling him Handy Andy.
Finland's Andrew Niemi seems to have a head lock on winning the backup position in goal for the Blackhawks. You might know him as Antti, but I'm more comfortable with Huckleberry Finn or Mickey Finn, the Chicago bartender who invented knockout drops and likely was one of the Blackhawks' first feisty fans in the Roaring Twenties.
And I'm certainly more familiar with Andy Hardy, Andy Griffith and Andy Devine. So in plain English, Antti breaks down to Andrew in Finnish and we naturally will be sticking with Andy the rest of the year here to avoid me having to take a Berlitz course. Actually, since it's Greek originally, Antti derives directly from Andreas.
But, at the risk of being an ugly American (see my photo for details), let's try limiting the United Nations to a precious few, because we already have a Frenchman starting in goal in Cristobal Huet and a Finn in support in Andy and might be in negotiations with visiting Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi to be the sixth defenseman. Gaddy is the kind of crackdown nutcase for whom the defense is searching to replace Matt Walker.
After Corey Crawford took it on the chin in Wednesday night's 6-2 loss in Washington, Niemi seems to have won the backup goalie derby by default. No matter what goes down Friday night at United Center when Cristobal Huet is expected to start against Minnesota, the stage will move to Finland Oct. 2-3 when the Hawks open the season against Florida and that puts Niemi in the driver's seat to be No. 2.
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