Niinimaa to Swiitzerland

Janne Niinimaa has signed with Davos of the Swiss league. It marks (likely) the end of a nice NHL career for one of my favorites.

Niinimaa played 741 NHL games with Philadelphia, Edmonton, New York Islanders, Dallas and Montreal. His nickname was “Spaz” which is not a good nickname for an NHL defender but he helped his teams win hockey games for a long time.

He was a 2nd round pick by the Flyers, and his peak in value and subsequent downward spiral are reflected perfectly by the return in trade over the years.

Edmonton gave up NHL defender Dan McGillis and a 2nd rd pick to get him, the Islanders gave up Raffi Torres and Brad Isbister for Niinimaa and a 2nd rd pick. Islanders traded Niinimaa and a 5 for John Erskine and a 2, Montreal traded Mike Ribeiro and a 6 for Niinimaa and a 5. There is some very nice talent in there.

I think Niinimaa’s career started going downhill when he was an Oiler and played through an injury. I’m playing crib with my wife and drinking Sleeman’s so can’t find it but I’ll look it up after I skunk her.

Either way, the NHL is one Finn down and that makes it a lesser league. I believe Niinimaa may play with former 1st rd pick Michel Riesen in Davos.

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8 Responses to "Niinimaa to Swiitzerland"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Janne was a good man. I remember how upset I was when Lowe traded him but he certainly timed it right.

  2. Art Vandelay says:

    GMs kept overpaying for him, like patrons at an Adam Sandler movie.

  3. momentai says:

    I have a soft spot for Niinimaa. He was our go-to dman back in the day and he played in all situations. The one play that I still remember is when Niinimaa scored on a breakaway after streaking out of the penalty box against Montreal. I was laughing so hard on that play.

    It’s too bad that his back was so bad at the tail end of his career as an Oiler – though, he was still logging big minutes for us. Good luck to Janne. It turned out well for us but I still can’t forget Janne crying as he left Edmonton. He really loved it here and we need more guys like that on the roster.

  4. Shawn says:

    I liked him, but yeah he hasn’t been the same for a while now.

    Davos is a strong team IIRC. Isn’t that floater Daigle there?

  5. Dennis says:

    Lowe certainly did trade high on the guy but he was one of my faves and long before I really came to mistrust and dislike Lowe, it didn’t sit right to me when he made disparaging comments about Niinimaa after the trade, about how he was breaking down, when the rate of Janne’s decent was expeidited by his willingness to play hurt and his unwillingness to go on the IR.

    Good luck to old 44.

  6. PunjabiOil says:

    Actually, I remember Lowe commented after the trade that “Janne was a warrior – sorry, he is a warrior”

    The timing of the trade was good, as Niinimaa only had one productive, solid season after that (2003-2004).

    I thought the move was due to salary reasons. Isbister was a waste of time and effort – he never did anything to earn the 2M in salary. Of course Lowe had a fetish for Good Alberta Boys, and thus overvalued them. Seems like he didn’t learn the lesson with Lupul either, but perhaps 3 is the charm.

    In any event, the two trades at the deadline seemed poor at the time – but the Oilers ended up winning them both.

  7. rickibear says:

    I hope that theme holds for Klowes current moves.

    I too have fond memories of Janne. He was part of the oiler period 1994-1997 that turned me from an objective hockey fan to an oiler fan.
    They were young and didn’t allways win. But when you bought tickets to a game you never felt ripped off by their effort.

    In 1997 he was icing on the cake.
    Plus I enjoyed reading about his taste in music.

    Maybe the new crop of young men this year will show that intense passion that turned me into an oiler fan.

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