There are a few basic schools of thought regarding the San Jose Sharks’ signing of Antti Niemi, but ultimately I think you could group fan and writer reactions into two sides. On one side, people who especially believe in Thomas Greiss might think that the Sharks’ are guilty of goalie overkill. That being said, others would argue that neither Greiss nor new addition Antero Niittymaki have proven they can carry a heavy workload on a true NHL contender.
(For the record, I think that the Sharks were wise to hedge their bets in net, although their thinner defensive corps will make it more difficult for whomever starts in goal.)
If this summer taught us anything, it’s that there might be more qualified workers than there are jobs in the field of NHL netminding. So you have to wonder about the emotional impact of Niemi’s signing on Niittymaki and Greiss. Great beat writer David Pollak caught up with both goalies and found that they have very different, yet equally justifiable reactions.
Is Niittymaki devastated that he won’t get a surefire shot to be the No. 1 goalie on a true elite NHL team after years of being the top guy on bad squads or fighting through platoon situations on decent teams? Well, if he’s devastated, he certainly submerged that emotion in positive PR speak.
“It’s part of the business,” Niittymaki said when I reached him this afternoon. “It’s not a huge deal or anything. . . . Our goal here is to win a Stanley Cup. I think everybody knows that. They have to do what they feel like they need to do. I don’t have a problem with it.”
Conversely, Greiss did not shield his disappointment. Of course, Niittymaki has more justification for positivity; his demotion means he’ll probably be in a “1a/1b” situation with Niemi while Greiss likely be shuttled down to the AHL or a different NHL team. Here is what Griess said to Pollak.
“I was hoping to make the next step,” he said. “It’s understandable they’re bringing in a Stanley Cup goalie, the first time they have that in the organization. At this point I understand that. From the other side, I want to play as much as I can.”
Has it reached the point where he thinks his best opportunity might come in another organization?
“I talked with Doug about it,” Greiss said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Well, look on the bright side, Greiss; at least you can be the starter for the German Olympic team …