One of the best goaltenders in Calgary Flames‘ history will have his number retired by the club.
Miikka Kiprusoff’s number 34 will be hoisted to the Scotiabank Saddledome rafters March 2 when Calgary is at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kiprusoff joins goaltender and Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Vernon (30), Lanny McDonald (9) and former teammate Jarome Iginla (12) among Flames whose numbers are preserved for them.
“It means a lot for me and my family. It’s a big thing,” Kiprusoff said Tuesday from Finland during a video conference call with reporters.
“I think it’s the biggest honour you can get as a player.”
Calgary has also given “honoured number” status to Al MacInnis (2) and Joe Nieuwendyk (25).
Current Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom wears 25 after he asked Nieuwendyk’s permission to wear it.
Kiprusoff, now 46, spent the last nine of his dozen NHL seasons with the Flames. Calgary acquired him in a trade with the San Jose Sharks in 2003.
The goalie from Turku, Finland, retired in 2013 as the franchise leader in wins (305), shutouts (41), goals-against average (2.46), save percentage (. 913) and games played by a goaltender (576).
Kiprusoff was a Vezina Trophy finalist three times and won the award for the NHL’s best goaltender in 2006.
He backstopped the Flames to the Stanley Cup final in 2004, when they fell in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“There’s a lot of memories,” Kiprusoff said. “I remember the day I got traded and arrived there. I was so excited about it. The biggest thing, of course, is that ’04 run. It was amazing. An amazing team. Lots of fun. That’s the top of the list.”
Kiprusoff is also the franchise leader in playoff shutouts (six) and ranks second behind Vernon in games played and wins in the playoffs.
“Kipper”, wife Seidi and sons Aaro, 18, and Oskar, 10, live in Helsinki. Oskar was born in Calgary during Kiprusoff’s final season. The family will travel to Calgary for the number-raising ceremony.
“Everybody knows giving speeches is not probably the best part of my hockey, but I will do it,” Kiprusoff said. “It will be an unbelievable day or two there. It’s going to be fun for sure.”
He hasn’t stood between the pipes since Calgary’s last home game of the 2012-13 season.
Kiprusoff received a standing ovation at the Saddledome after a 32-save performance in a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
He then lost all his goalie equipment to Calgary’s historic summer flood that submerged the Flames’ dressing room.
Kiprusoff announced his retirement that September.
Flames general manager Craig Conroy was Kiprusoff’s teammate for seven seasons in Calgary.
“For me, personally, it was a privilege to have been his teammate,” Conroy said in a statement. “Under that mask was a fierce competitor who gave us the confidence and an opportunity to win every night.”