To the right, you will see #5, Matt Niskanen, celebrating a goal with his teammates. Sadly, it was not his first NHL goal, which, for some reason, I can’t find a photo of.
Let me give you some insight on Matt Niskanen.
Hard facts: He is 20 years old. He was the Stars’ first round draft pick, 28th overall, in 2005. After that, he attended the University of Minnesota Duluth (what what, go Bulldogs!). In March of 2007, he signed an Amateur tryout contract with the Iowa Stars. He said in an interview that he expected to play in Iowa for a year or two before moving up to play with the big boys.
How wrong you were, Happy Meals.
After training camp and preseason, it was pretty clear that Niskanen was going to stay. His NHL contract begins this season for three years. While I was worried during all the CRAZINESS last week about him getting traded, I spent considerable time thinking of my two favorite players (the other being back-up goaltender Mike Smith), and whether or not they would get traded. Listening to the Dorito-chomping Chicken Littles (this is my new favorite term for the majority of people on the Stars message boards) didn’t help any – they were screaming for a trade, specifically trading Smith or Niskanen. After some thought and discussion with my fellow Untypical Girls, I came to the realization that it probably won’t happen, at least not immediately, and probably not for awhile. Smith has proved himself as a reliable back-up goaltender, and Niskanen…Well.
Niskanen, after some serious line-juggling, has ended up the defensive partner of Russian. I think this was the best move that Tippett could have made. It’s proved to be awesome for both Niskanen AND Russian. Not implying that Russian isn’t good, because he’s obviously amazing, but I think the boost of young energy from Niskanen has been great for him. And Niskanen, who already had a style much like Zubov with his skating and ability to handle the puck so well, is just thriving with him.
Matt got his first NHL career goal on October 29, 2007, against the San Jose Sharks, at home. I’m very glad it was at home, and also, the screams that came from whatever section the Untypical Girls were sitting in (I want to say it was 327) were totally ridiculous. They were all from me. I’m pretty sure that was the moment I realized that I liked Matt Niskanen way more than I thought I did. I seem to remember Pookie and Schnookie saying something on their blog about how when you’re watching two teams you don’t care about, you wait for a goal, and realize which team you’re rooting for when you cheer or boo when the first goal is scored. I guess I always liked Baby Niskanen (because really, who wouldn’t?), but that moment, when I seriously jumped out of my chair the second it happened, and screamed just as loud as I do for Mike Smith, is the moment I totally fell in love with the kid. Not in that creepy stalker way, just in the “OMG Y U SO AWESOME” way.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what Matt Niskanen is going to do in his career. Personally (and I know this is kind of blasphemous), I see him being the next Zubov, only less foreign. Although apparently reporters ask him and his teammates how his English is – on a team with Jokinen, Miettinen, Hagman, and Lehtinen, I guess it’s pretty easy to confuse Niskanen for a Finn. Vaara, Niskanen, vaara!
As a little side note, what is the deal with Stars players and country music? I know we’re in Texas and all, but according to interviews, Mike Smith, Matt Niskanen, and Marty Turco are all way into country music. Brooks and Dunn, Niskie? We’ll have to talk about that, okay? In the meantime, I’ll be the first person in the AAC (at least, probably) with a Niskanen jersey. If anyone is attending the game on Wednesday (possibly Monday, depending on when I get the jersey), and you see an Asian girl with a Niskanen jersey on? Yeah, that’s me.
Love you, Matt Niskanen! You’re so rad!