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Antero Niittymaki signs in Finland

Aug 22, 2012, 7:00 PM EDT

Antero Niittymaki Getty Images

After a trying 2011-12 season that included being waived by San Jose, Antero Niittymaki is off to Finland.

The 32-year-old netminder — who spent all of last season in the AHL, appearing in just 13 games — has signed on to play with TPS Turku of the SM-liiga, Finland’s top league.

The move brings Niittymaki back to the club he starred with before joining the Flyers organization in 2002.

“It feels good to come back to TPS,” he said in a statement. “The club made it possible to put this in place over the summer, and we came to terms very quickly on the contract.”

Niittymaki wasn’t even sure he’d play hockey this season after last year’s serious hip injury. He had an artificial joint placed in the hip prior to the 2011-12 campaign and struggled with it throughout.

Now healthy, it’ll be interesting to see if Niittymaki can regain his previous form. He was the tournament MVP at the 2006 Winter Olympics, posting three shutouts in six games while leading Finland to a silver medal.

Niittymaki’s also twice won 20 games at the NHL level (with Philly and Tampa Bay) and actually held the Sharks’ starting job at the start of 2010-11. He was San Jose’s player of the month in October before suffering a lower-body injury, losing the No. 1 gig to Antti Niemi.

  1. phlmt69 - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Loved Nitty in Philly. Hope he stays healthy.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 22, 2012 at 8:32 PM

      +1. Nitty was the man.

  2. wakegoalie27 - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    He will always be one of my favorite flyers goalies. Good luck back home nitty!

  3. Eberwizzle - Aug 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Am I missing something here? How is this not even a backup goaltender one of your favorite goaltenders?

    • mclovinhockey - Aug 28, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      He played well in Philly and made some huge saves. Many thought he would be a starter in Philly but once he left he started to fall apart.

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