I think he absolutely get's a standing O from the majority of the UC crowd. I think the general consensus among casual/uneducated fans is that the team "just couldn't afford to keep him". Of course, everyone in here knows that it was more complicated than that, but I think the joe schmo's out there think it was more the hawks fault than Niemi's for him leaving.
I think he'll get applause. I kind of felt sorry for him in this situation. It seems like he had a genuine desire to stay and got squeezed out by an agent who had too much pride to do what was in his clients best interest in a tough situation. Now he will platoon for less money. Kind of a raw deal.
He backstopped the Hawks to their first cup in over 40 years, mediocre goaltending or not, and left because his agent was too stupid to take the deal the Hawks were offering. Fans can understand this.
Niemi had said he wanted to stay and he seemed to really enjoy the city - I'll never forget how humbled he looked at the parade, smiling and holding out his index finger (as in "we're number 1")... I think most fans understand he didn't leave on his own accord, but rather for a number of factors that weren't really in his hands.
I blame the agent for giving him bad advice, so my opinion of Niemi really hasn't changed since the Cup win.
Have to admit that I don't agree with this position (and it seems pretty common amongst Hawk fans). I have nothing against Niemi but to "blame the agent" in any sport is just silly....and especially problematic IMO with Niemi who really owes a lot to the Hawks. I hear that he "wanted to stay in Chicago"...well they did offer him a multi-year, multi-million contract.
I don't blame the agent - he worked for Niemi not the other way around. Niemi is the one who chose to take the risk and it backfired. He is an adult who made a decision to play for more money rather than to play where he would have been supported by one of the best defenses in the NHL. He got less of both...and BTW he hasn't fired his agent.
I want him to come to CHicago and FAIL. I will not applaud for him one iota any longer...Chicago's appreciation for his work was demonstrated LAST year. Its not like this guy played multiple seasons for the Hawks...hell he didn't even play a whole single season. He played part of one in front of the best defense in the league.
It's a new year now...if a chorus of boos would shake him up (even a little bit), it is our responsibility as fans to boo him IMO. The Sharks are quickly becoming one of my least favorite teams and he is their goalie...boo the mf'er.
On Hockey This Morning on NHL Home Ice on XM Radio, Denny Potvin said that he thought Niemi is a flash in the pan goalie, and SJ will learn that quick.
I agree in the sense that he was a servicable goalie, what the Hawks needed, through the play-offs. The NHL is littered with stories of great one year goalies that never did it again (Jim Carey anyone?). Do it again, and it's no flash.
The Turco-Crawford tandem will be effective for the Hawks, and Niemi will languish in mediocrity.
I do believe he gets a warm and deserving welcome from the UC croud, though!