CSN Bay Area posted a piece about San Jose Sharks alum Evgeni Nabokov pushing for a starting role on Team Russia on Friday, Aug. 30. Attached to it was a video about how Team Finland invitee Antti Niemi carried his NHL team in the first half of the 2013 season.
Those two media pieces speak volumes about the play San Jose has enjoyed in net in recent years.
Nabokov won the Calder Trophy in 2001 as the best rookie in the NHL, and his development allowed the Sharks to trade away Jonas Hedberg. Even when it turned out he was battling a sports hernia injury in 2006, Vesa Toskala was a suitable fill-in. They could have had Miikka Kiprusoff had they not traded him in 2004.
Then even when all of them were gone in 2010, the Sharks brought in the goalie that orchestrated a sweep over them in the Western Conference finals en route to a Stanley Cup. Niemi not only carried them for much of 2013, but did the same thing at the end of the 2010-11 regular season.
That is five starting goalies from one franchise in this millennium—three of them true stars. Many teams do not enjoy that success in their history, and San Jose's success in net runs almost to their inception.
In fact, if Niemi makes Team Finland, he will be added to the list of six Sharks that were good enough to mind the nets of their national teams in the Olympics.