Good article. I was just wondering about this today. My thought was, literally, "Who would want to pay all-star money to a goalie who played average at times and good at times for only one year? Did they not see exactly what we all did?" Hopefully, the answer is yes, they did. Because I'd like to keep Nemo and see him develop (but certainly not at the expense of any of the aforementioned players).
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@Hockey Broad Sorry if I didn't clarify enough, though I believe I stated it, but that view is not from the Hawks players. That's from the media, other personnel throughout the NHL, etc. It's in relation to the "star power" I mentioned. Halak's playoff success, though not to the level of Niemi because of Niemi's Stanley Cup win, still gives Halak more star power than Niemi will ever earn. Also, my personal view is not that the 'Hawks won "in spite of" Niemi, but that's the concensus outside of Chicago. The last part of your comment makes it seem as if you're taking what I wrote as my personal view of Niemi. The point of it is how he's viewed around the NHL. Sorry I didn't clarify that enough.
"Though Halak’s playoff success carried him to his current popularity, Niemi’s resulted in a simple ho-hum. The view is the ‘Hawks won more in spite of Niemi rather than because of him." Really? Because after the Stanley Cup win, the players themselves repeatedly praised Niemi, stating that his solid play, especially in those games where the rest of the team started out looking like a mess on the ice (hello, Nashville series), allowed them to feel confident and get their feet underneath them/get back in the game to make things happen. And he had a couple of high-# save games vs. the Sharks (what was it, 44 saves in 2 games in the same series) so he showed that he can play big even when the defense in front of him isn't as tight as usual. I think the only games you could classify as "in spite of" might be the Final series, where BOTH teams' goalies didn't have their best runs; but even then, he still won the most important game of all.