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Miikka Kiprusoff hopes to be remembered as a 'team guy' ahead of Flames jersey retirement

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As the Calgary Flames prepare to raise Miikka Kiprusoff’s number 34 to the rafters of the Saddledome on Saturday, the legendary Finnish goalie hopes he is remembered as a “team guy.”

“For me, it’s like, even if it’s my jersey going up there, I think it’s our team’s time. It’s not just my moment tomorrow, it’s for the guys who I played with and helped me out a lot,” Kiprusoff told media in Calgary on Friday.

The Flames will be retiring Kiprusoff’s number ahead of their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a gesture he said is a great honour.

“I’ll try not to cry, but we’ll see,” Kiprusoff said.

“It’s great to be back, you know, it’s seeing people, still the same people working in the building and seeing the players, and yeah, it brings back the memories and it’s fun to be back here.”

Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (34), of Finland, warms up before an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Sunday Nov. 6, 2011. in Denver. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

While the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals run stands out, Kiprusoff said he has so many good memories from his time in Calgary that it’s hard to pick just one.

A product of Turku, Finland, Kiprusoff was traded to the Flames from the San Jose Sharks in November 2003, just a few months before their run to the cup finals.

“It was a great team,” he said.

“I noticed right away, it was a room full of great guys, not just great players. For me, it was like a second chance there and you know, things started going well. So for me, the whole year was unbelievable and of course the whole run too.”

Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff looks back at the puck flies away after making a save as Flames defenceman Andrew Ference holds back Tampa Bay Lightning Vincent Lecavalier during first period of game four of the NHL Stanley Cup finals Monday, May 31, 2004 in Calgary. (CP PHOTO/Frank Gunn)

While the team had “a job to do” and couldn’t take part in the festivities as the wave of red swept across Calgary in 2004, Kiprusoff said he appreciated the support as the whole city rallied behind the team.

“Great fans, you know, they are supporting us and they know how to have fun too,” he said.

“It was unreal, the whole city was so great for us.”

When he was asked about the run, Kiprusoff said it is a good memory but losing in the finals still hurts.

“I know I should say, ‘It was in,’ – it was in,” he said.

While Kiprusoff is happy to see his old teammates Craig Conroy and Jarome Iginla in roles with the Flames, he is content with his life outside of hockey – and getting to spend lots of time with his family.

“I’m happy right now, (with) what I’m doing,” he said.

“I don’t want to do a job like 50 per cent. I know if I take a job (in) hockey, it’s going to take lots of time to be good at what you’re doing.”

Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla, centre, is congratulated on his 500th carrier goal by goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, right, from Finland, and Olli Jokinen, from Finland, during third period NHL hockey action against the Minnesota Wild in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Kiprusoff manned the crease for the Flames from 2003 to 2013. He played nine of his 12 years in the NHL in Calgary, finishing as the franchise leader in wins (305), shutouts (41), goals against average (2.46), save percentage (.913) and games played by a goaltender (576).

Number 34 will join Lanny McDonald’s number nine, Jarome Iginla’s 12 and Mike Vernon’s 30 as the Flames’ other retired jersey numbers.

The puck drop for the game is set for 8 p.m., but the retirement ceremony will take place at 6:20 p.m. before player warmups. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Fans attending the game will receive a limited-edition t-shirt celebrating Kiprusoff and will have an opportunity to take a photo with a one-of-a-kind Kipper-branded goalie mask on the concourse.

The Flames will be wearing a custom jersey patch dedicated to Kiprusoff and the number 34 will be painted on the ice behind both nets.

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