After a National Hockey League career that included 234 games played, former Flyers goaltender Antero Niittymaki officially retired from the sport on Friday.
Niittymaki played seven seasons in the NHL including his first five (2003-04; 2005-09) in Philadelphia. He retired with a record of 95-86-31, five shutouts, a save percentage of .902 and a goals-against average of 2.95.
The 32-year-old goalie was plucked in the 1998 draft by Philadelphia in the sixth round (168th overall).
After leaving the Flyers, Niittymaki played in Tampa Bay and San Jose and after playing the 2011-12 season in the American Hockey League for Worcester and Syracuse, he decided to return to his native country of Finland to complete his career.
He signed a one-year deal with TPS of the SM-Liiga (Finnish Elite League) and played only 14 games before he was placed on the injury list. Niittymaki had suffered a number of hip injuries over the years and eventually had to have a hip replacement procedure in 2010.
Earlier in the day Finnish journalist Matias Strozyk broke the news:
Antero Niittymäki retires due to constant hip-injuries. Only 14 games in 2012/2013, all during the 1st half of the season. Via Ilta-Sanomat.
— Matias Strozyk (@MaStrozyk) April 12, 2013
All of us here at Flyers Faithful would like to wish Antero all the best in the next chapter of his life and thank him for all he has done for the Flyers!
Fun Facts about Antero Niittymaki:
- He was instrumental in helping the Philadelphia Phantoms win the Calder Cup in the in 2005, winning the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the playoff MVP.
- Niittymaki was also named MVP of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics and earned a Silver medal with his native Finland.
- On April 11, 2004, while with the Phantoms, Niittymaki became the first professional goalie to be credited with an overtime goal (It was actually an errant pass into an empty net, but Niittymaki was last to touch it), one which helped the club win the final contest and sweep the rival Hershey Bears in a 12-game season series.
- Niittymaki is also known for giving up one of the strangest goals in recent Flyers history. During a game against Pittsburgh in October of 2005, a Penguins forward fired a puck in deep into the Flyers zone. Normally it would have been a harmless shot, except for the fact that Niittymaki was not paying attention. Who scored the goal? None other than current Flyer, Maxime Talbot. Here is a video of the event: