CHICAGO – What Miikka Kiprusoff really meant to say was… Well, we’re not sure.
Hours after Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that the Calgary Flames goalie had created his own no trade clause — telling Flames management that he would refuse to report to another team if moved before the upcoming trade deadline — the Flames goalie refused to talk to the media to either refute or confirm the report.
Flames GM Jay Feaster, in an email, refused to comment on Kiprusoff’s ultimatum.
It is customary that a team’s starting goalie and best player is available to media post game. But for a team that plays with growing ambivalence, media regulations are adhered to about as strictly as coach Bob Hartley’s defensive system.
Which is to say, very loosely.
Jarome Iginla, who mustered two of Calgary’s sleepy 16 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, did speak after the game. To his credit, the Flames captain made no attempt to blame his ineffective game on the swirling trade rumours.
“We have no excuses,” said Iginla, with growing acceptance to the fact he is on the trading block, with several teams kicking his tires. “We’ve been good at home and we’ve been bad on the road. There are no excuses. So, no, I don’t think we can use that.
“(Trade rumours are) part of hockey,” he continued. “I haven’t been in this much speculation since I started playing, but guys go through it all the time, every year at the deadline, and it’s my turn. It’s part of hockey.
“Honestly, when you get in the game and you want to play you’re not thinking of those things, and you shouldn’t be.”
On a night when both of Calgary’s pillars, Iginla and Kiprusoff, played with one skate into either another city (Iginla) or perhaps even retirement (Kiprusoff), the goalie should have been named the game’s first star.
“We got out-competed tonight, all of us,” said Iginla. “Except Kip, who was great again in net for us.”
Kirprusoff is officially in limbo, as the Flames seek to trade Iginla and bring back a young goalie like Boston prospect Malcolm Subban, or Los Angeles backup Jonathan Bernier. If that transaction can be completed, Kiprusoff becomes an attractive trade for a smaller market club in need of goaltending and cap hit.
Or perhaps as a backup/tutor to James Reimer in Toronto.
The Turku native still has plenty of game at age 36, and he is due to be paid just $1.5 million (all figures U.S.) with a cap hit of $5,833,333. But even though you’d think he’d be willing to leave a 26th place team that hangs him out to dry on a nightly basis, with the recent birth of his son, Kiprusoff reportedly is refusing to leave Cowtown.
Kiprusoff signed what became the first and most flagrant back-diving contract when he agreed to a six-year, $35 million heading into the 2008-09 season. The annual compensation went as such: $8.5 million, $7 million, $7 million, $6.5 million, $5 million, $1.5 million.
It is the kind of front-loaded contract made extinct in the new collective bargaining agreement. Now, annual salary may not drop more than 50 per cent over the course of the deal, or 35 per cent from year to year.
It was expected that Kiprusoff, who will turn 36 less than a month into the final season on that deal, would retire rather than play for cheap. Well, the final season is next year, and now Kiprusoff is faced with three options:
Either play out the final season in Calgary for less than a quarter his average salary of the previous five seasons; accept a trade and try to work out a contract extension with a different team; or retire. Wherever he plays, his 2013-14 salary will be $1.5 million, even though he carries a cap hit of $5,833,333.
Meanwhile, this was the 14th straight game in which Calgary failed to register 30 shots, and its tenth consecutive road game without a win (0-9-1).
“For a goalie, the most frustrating thing is not to get any goals. As well as you can play, you’re not going to win,” said head coach Bob Hartley. “That’s the unfortunate part of playing goal. You can do lots of good things, but you can’t score goals.”