SAN JOSE -- The Blackhawks unknown soldier between the pipes, Antti Niemi, went from Pelicans Lahti in Finland to the Rockford (Illinois) IceHogs to No. 1 in Chicago, earns only $827,000 for manning what arguably is the most important position in sports, yet is so green he might as well be a vegetable.
"What did Niemi play, six games before Christmas?" mentioned Eddie Olczyk, star of NBC/Comcast/Versus/Channel 9/talk radio/summer hockey schools. "I mean, who knew that he would do what he's been doing?"
Now, 13 games into the post-season marathon, authorities have launched an investigation into identifying the coolest rookie goalkeeper since Ken Dryden entrusted to lead his team to a Stanley Cup while registering the pulse rate of a toll collector; Antti Niemi is a person of interest. He stoned the San Jose Sharks, 2-1, with a 44-save calisthenics display Sunday in Game One of the Western Conference final, then boarded the team bus back to the hotel like he was going to fetch his car at remote airport parking.
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