Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ex-Blackhawk Niemi To The Sharks

Former Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi signed with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, according to sources.

The Sharks had been looking for a clear-set goalie to start their 2010 season, although their recent pick-up of Antero Nittymaki from Tampa Bay seemed to be the default option, at least to start.

If you would recall, Niemi played the role of the brick wall in front of Chicago's net last season when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

Niemi was only in net because of first-stringer Cristobal Huet's benching late in the season. Niemi surprised the world, and probably himself, when he lead the Blackhawks to the Cup.

The team most annoyed with Niemi's success last season is probably his current team, the Sharks. The Sharks were swept in the Western Conference Semi's after they couldn't get a puck past Niemi. Now that Niemi is on their side, their attitude toward him may be a little different.

But let's analyze this for a second. Next to the Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks are most likely the Sharks' greatest rival because of the way the two teams continuously meet in the playoffs or how they are always on top of the conference.

If you're not too much into hockey, I liken this towards the Giants/Rockies or Giants/Padres series. It's not the Dodgers, but pretty close.

Niemi coming to the Sharks is like Ubaldo Jimenez or Mat Latos coming to the Giants, just a little less talent on Niemi's end.

Whether Sharks fans like this or not, or however they feel about a goalie who single-handedly eliminated their team the previous season and now becomes apart of it, Niemi makes this Sharks team a lot stronger than they were before they had him.

Will Niemi be given the starting spot? The Sharks won't admit it off the bat, but you would have to believe that a Stanley Cup winning goalie would have to be the only way to go. Especially over Nittymaki, who last played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of worst teams in the NHL last season.

Niemi fills the void that was left after Evgeni Nabokov departed. Instead of a goalie that proved everything in the regular season and nothing in the playoffs, you now have a goalie who has somewhat proven himself in the regular season and is overwhelmingly proven in the playoffs. Nabby Who?

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