After spending the last 14 games of his professional career with TPS in the SM-Liga, Antero Niittymaki has announced his retirement at the age of 32 because of recurring hip-problems.
Remember this guy? On the first day of free agency in summer 2010, Niittymäki replaced long time San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov because of salary cap considerations. Niittymäki played strongly at the beginning of the season, earning the Sharks Player of the Month award in October. However, he sustained another lower body injury, resulting in him missing 17 games, during which Antti Niemi solidified his standing as the starting goaltender. In his second year in San Jose, an injury forced him to mis the first months. Upon his return, Thomas Greiss, who had been backing Niemi retained his role as the Sharks backup goaltender, and Niittymaki was waived. He did not play a single NHL game last season.
Niitty has previously played for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and most recently Sharks, as well as in the SM-liiga and the American Hockey League. At the 2006 Winter Olympics, while playing for Team Finland, he was voted the MVP of the entire tournament.
After spending ten years in North America, it was announced last summer that Niittymäki had signed a one-year contract with his youth team TPS. After a 4-5 shootout loss against Tappara on November 13th 2012 it was announced that Niittymäki would be injured or the next two weeks. Later it was revealed he would be out for the rest of the season after only playing 14 games, posting a 2.83 GAA and a .902 SP before the injury
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