One of the NHL’s more colorful characters is stepping away from the game.
Ville Nieminen, who appeared in 385 career games with Colorado, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Calgary, San Jose, St. Louis and the New York Rangers, announced his retirement over the weekend after playing his final game in the Finnish League.
Nieminen, 38, made a mark for himself in the vein of former Oilers pest Esa Tikkanen, developing a reputation as a gritty, annoying and yappy forward that could prove important come playoff time. In his first full NHL season, he scored a career-high 14 goals for the Avs during the regular season, then chipped in 10 points in 23 playoff games as Colorado captured the 2001 Stanley Cup.
Three years later, his postseason savvy helped Calgary advance all the way to Game 7 of the ’04 Cup Final, where it would lose to Tampa Bay. Nieminen finished that run with eight points in 24 games and became something of a folk hero in Calgary with his wit and sense of humor (click here for some of his best lines, per the Herald.)
Nieminen’s last NHL season came in St. Louis in 2007. From there, he spent time in the KHL, Swedish and Finnish Leagues before calling it a day. Most recently, he served in a mentor role for Florida’s Aleksander Barkov heading into, and at, the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.