When Antti Niemi was working as a goalie for a second division team in Finland, he made extra money by driving the Zamboni at a local rink.
"That's how he paid his bills," recalled Bill Zito, his Chicago-based agent.
Niemi has come a long, long way in the past decade. Now 26 and in his first full season with the Chicago Blackhawks, he's trying to backstop one of the NHL's Original Six franchises to its first Stanley Cup championship since 1961 -- 22 years before he was born.
After stints in the Finnish army and the leagues of his homeland, Niemi has watched his life change dramatically in the last two years since signing with the Blackhawks as a free agent.
"It's come fast, pretty fast," Niemi said just before the playoffs began.
It's not uncommon for goalies to do very well early on and then fade a couple years later.
It's because they get "solved" after a season or two. There are literally dozens of recent examples of this. Even Huet is one - as every team realized he had to cheat on shots to prevent being beaten high, his production crumbled.
The goalies with true skill don't have this problem, but we don't usually find out who they are until a couple seasons later. For now, we can ride Niemi and hope he is one of those.