Let me start this off by saying I was a huge fan of Antti Niemi and am sorry he is no longer he is with the Hawks. I was debating with people within weeks of the season starting last year that Huet wasn't the answer and that they needed to go to Niemi.
With that being said I feel he was screwed over by his agent who saw the money given to Halak by St. Louis and figured well my guy won the Cup so he deserves that or more.
Monday ESPNchicago's Jesse Rogers had a chance to talk to the Hawks former goaltender on him leaving the team and what exactly happened with the contract talks.
"We hadn't talked to the Hawks much even before [Niklas] Hjalmarsson got his offer [from San Jose]," he said. "Or much after that."
"Then when I thought that I wasn't a priority, I thought better to move on anyway," Niemi said.
"At that time, we didn't want [the arbitration decision] to get too high, because of the salary cap situation," Niemi said. "We were pretty happy with that number, but I was wondering, 'Is it too much?'"
Niemi also said there was never a longterm contract offer made and contrary to reports was very involved in the process having conference calls in English as well as Finnish.
When is came to talking about his new team he says he had many offers and didn't focus on the city as much as he did on the team. So far this season he has struggled for the Shark going 2-4 with a 3.91 goal allowed average (I bet he misses Keith & Seabrook playing in front of him) and on the prospect of beating his form team:
"Of course it would be awesome to beat them, but looking at my stats, 2 wins, 4 losses, it really doesn't matter too much who I beat."
Antti Niemi can say whatever he wants but the Hawks were in no position to offer his agent Billy Zito what he was looking for without having to trade another key member of the team. When it came down to it the Hawks viewed him behind their top 6 forwards and top 4 defensemen. And who those of you out there who disagree and wish you were still hearing Pat Foley scream "Niemi says No!!!!" I ask a question: would you be willing to give up Patrick Sharp or Brent Seabrook if it meant Niemi could still be in Chicago?
I say no and really hope the Hawks get to face Niemi on Wednesday and then on December 3 when the Sharks travel to the UC that the crowd gives him the standing ovation he deserves because don't get it would be 50 years without us winning the Stanley Cup if it wasn't for Niemi.