Niemi's status in question

September 22, 2011, 6:39 pm
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When Sharks camp began on Friday, Antti Niemi was listed as 'day to day' following the removal of a cyst. That was now six days ago, and since, the Finnish netminder has skated, but has not faced shots from his teammates yet.

The Mercury News recently asked Antti if he expected to be ready for the season opener, October 8th. His response, "I don't know about that. We'll see."

Niemi, like many of the Sharks, rarely gives full details of injuries or timelines for return. It's just an unwritten club policy, that further extends to many other teams and players around the NHL. Hockey is the only sport where ailments are acceptably described, only by the half of body they hinder. The point: don't read too much into a vague answer.

The biggest issue with Niemi's setback, is that backup Antero Niittymaki is not skating yet. He has recurring leg injuries from last season, which may require surgery, that could have him sidelined for 3-4 months. General Manager Doug Wilson told me that Antero is flying to Los Angeles to see a specialist. The team would prefer he gets this issue resolved, sooner than later.

"You don't want a player to have an interrupted season," Wilson said about Niittymaki. "We would rather address something right now."

This leaves Thomas Greiss, as the most healthy option, as of today. The German played 10 games in 09-10 for the Sharks, backing up Evgeni Nabokov, but last season was shipped overseas by San Jose.

"Thomas Greiss certainly deserves the opportunity. Last year he was never out of our plans, it's just the opportunity for his growth was to go over to Europe, and we're happy he's back."