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THN.com Blog: Getting the goalie jitters

Miikka Kiprusoff had an .894 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average in six Olympic games for Finland. (Getty Images)

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Miikka Kiprusoff had an .894 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average in six Olympic games for Finland. (Getty Images)

As much as the 2010 Vancouver Olympics confirmed Ryan Miller’s status as the planet’s best goaltender, it also planted some seeds of doubt for a few other well-known netminders – and I’m not referring to highly productive rebound factory Roberto Luongo, either.

If you’re a Calgary Flames fan and you see the way Miikka Kiprusoff flailed and ailed against the Americans in the semifinal, are you going to reach for the Maalox when the playoffs roll around, or would you prefer any drug whose side effects include temporary blindness?

Same goes for San Jose Sharks supporters and that team’s No. 1 goalie Evgeni Nabokov, as well as New Jersey boosters and surefire Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. Both of those guys looked horrendous at times and deserved their respective Olympic fates.

I know all three netminders will be playing on drastically different teams with no discernable connection to their Olympic squads. Nevertheless, it can’t make Darryl Sutter, Doug Wilson or Lou Lamoriello feel good to see key components of their post-season hopes look so lost in high-stake showdowns.

More than a few hockey observers thought some pre-trade-deadline deals would be made directly as a result of what NHL GMs saw at the Vancouver Games. If any of those deals involve a goalie joining the Flames, Sharks or Devils, we’ll have a good idea as to the reason why.

• Speaking of Luongo, he hit the cliché jackpot after the gold medal game when he was asked if his Olympic performance ought to close the mouths of his doubters:

“You guys can be the judge of that,” Luongo said before dropping a time-tested piece of verbal nothingness. “But I got a gold medal around my neck and nobody can take that away from me.”

You know what? I’m publicly demanding to take away “they can never take that away from me” from athletes by adding it to my semi-regular list of banned bromides

Either that, or I demand to be invited to the meetings where people decide who to take stuff from.

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• Speaking of doozies, feast your eyes on these Olympic-themed comments Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke made over the weekend regarding NHL participation in future Olympics:

“I’ve been in the room when owners have said, ‘We’re not going to the Olympics,’ ” Burke said. “Some of our markets are challenged, attendance-wise. To close our doors and say, ‘thanks for your patronage, come back in two-and-a-half weeks’…If any other business did that, people would be giving them the award for imbecility.”

I had to smile. I can see the point Burke is trying to make, but here’s where the argument falls apart Humpty-Dumpty style: this is the same group of owners who already have said to fans, ‘thanks for your patronage, come back in 52 weeks’ during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

If you get the imbecility award for a two-week shutdown, what trophy do you get when you board up your business for a full year? A Darwin Award? Lifetime achievement honors at the Razzies?

Whatever the case, by my math, that’s 25 more Olympic Winter Games NHL team owners owe to hockey fans before their post-lockout debt is fully repaid.

• I miss the Olympic theme already.

• Finally: just kidding about missing the Olympic theme.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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