So finnaly Anetti Niemi got picked up….by San Jose……to share time……and for only 2 million……lets recap the saga shall we?

First Bill Zito (Niemis idiot…I mean agent) said that Niemi didnt want to speak publicly about contract talks.  I can respect that.  All that was supsected was that they wanted a long term deal, not 3 or 4 years but 7 or 8.  The original rumour from the Hawks bowman was 4 years at 2mil per. 

Next Zito talked to the National Post in Canada and said “He’s going to get his money” and “but the term is going to have something to do with it”  Then reporter Michael Traikos said “Indeed, if the Blackhawks believe Niemi is a franchise goaltender, then the best route is for the team to sign him to a cap-friendly deal with a lengthy expiration date. That is what Chicago did with defenceman Keith (US$72-million for 13 years) and Hossa (US$62.8-million for 12 years).”  Zito then said “Which would be smart,” he responded. “If they share our enthusiasm for what he’s done and what he would probably do.”

Thats it right there isnt it, his own agent, who wants a long term high priced contract used the phrase “what he would probably do.” In the 37 games Niemi started he was 26-7-4 with a 2.25 goals against and that is pretty damn good.

I thought he had plenty of talent, and really started to become a fan of his after about 4 or 5 starts.  I really thought this could be the goaltender of the hawks future but there was one huge question mark to me, even after the stanley cup win.  What happens when he has to play 50 or 60 games? Can he handle the work load? Will he be injury prone or not?  these are questions that every team needs to look at with goalies and players in general.  Hell, Huet had pretty good numbers every year,  up to 40 or so games.  He never played a full season, and look what happened when the hawks tried to make him a full time starter, he started the season strong then collapsed.  Some guys just dont have it.  I think Niemis agent (the agent that used probably) knew that was a question. 

so back to the main story line duringI believe he deserved a hell of a raise, heck he only made 800,000 dollars last season, I think he deserved a one or two year deal at around 1.75 to 2.00 million, after that he could always have asked for the long term and probably got it from any team, if he performed. 

Then Zito comes out and makes this statement in the same interview “Already there has been talk of burying Huet (US$5.625-million) in the minors. And there are rumours that any or all of Patrick Sharp (US$3.9-million), Kris Versteeg (US$3.083-million) and Brent Sopel (US$2.3-million) could be traded. But expecting Niemi to bite the bullet and accept a discount, says Zito, is not an option.”  Zito could make that argument for plenty of goalies, that have played more than 37 games.  I mean coming out and making that statement, really?  Playing hardball before even talking to the team?  wow.

Then at the end of the interview Zito questions wether Niemi even wants to stay in chicago with this

“You have to make a smart hockey decision,” Zito said. “Where does he want to play? Does he want to be part of this thing?

“This city, it’s unbelievable now. But he might say ‘no.’ In fact, he’s the kind of guy who might say, ‘I don’t like it.’ ”

“The other night, we were all going to dinner and I was like, ‘Hey, we’re going to one of these Mexican places, do you want to go?’

“Antti says, ‘No. Too many people will see me.”

Personally I dont think he would need to really worry about that, hockey still isnt number 1 or 2 in this city sadly.  besides most people wouldnt recognize him without his gear on.  Now on to the real problem.  All that talk from Zito about not biting the bullet and long contracts and where did the hardball tactics get a great prospect? into a backup role on san jose for 1 year for only 2 million.  I couldnt find anything that shows what the hawks had offered niemi, All I know is the arbitration was going to give him 2.75 million.  Rumour has it the Hawks wanted to give him 1.5 but I never found anything to back that up.The hawks probably wouldve give 1.75 maybe 2, but Zito saw Stanley Cup and dollar signs, mostly for himself, and didnt want anything from the Hawks.  Fact is that goaltenders have lost alot of value money wise this season because of guys like Leighton and Niemi who were bargain basement and performed they way the did.  In many aspects Niemi was his own worse enemy.  I still think he’ll turn out to be a great goaltender but only time will tell.  Thanks again and good luck in San Jose (unless you play us!)

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