Kipper's a real cut up

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:34 PM ET


 To most, Miikka Kiprusoff epitomizes cool, on and off the ice.

 You see him between the pipes -- outside of his protests after being interfered with by Ed Jovanovski or taking a whack or two at those trying to set a screen -- and can't help but wonder how much it takes to truly rile him.

 Then talk to the Flames netminder.

 Answers are short, especially when pressed to talk about himself.

 He's quiet and modest.

 If you're looking for copy, search elsewhere because a quote machine, he's not.

 But the player whose popularity in this city is second only to Jarome Iginla -- and the gap is closing -- is known to his buddies for a devilish sense of humour.

 Vancouver Canucks netminder Johan Hedberg lived through a season of it.

 The pair were together in AHL Kentucky in 1999-2000, Kiprusoff's first season in North America.

 Word spread the Finn spoke Swedish -- which is true -- but not English, therefore Hedberg was given the job as translator.

 The only problem was Kiprusoff at least had a small handle on the English language and wouldn't let on. And Hedberg couldn't figure out a way to let the cat out of the bag.

 The worst part for the affable Hedberg was Kiprusoff knew it, too. That became painfully obvious one day in practice.

 "The coach was trying to tell him something and Miikka just stared at him so he gave up and asked me to tell him what he said," Hedberg recalled. "I knew he understood and he looked at me with a big grin and said, 'This is so good. I can fool these guys all year.' "

 Like we said, devilish.

 Asked earlier this season what he was like at school, Kiprusoff said. "If something happened, I probably didn't do it but I was there anyways."

 Rest assured, he did his best to look innocent.

 "He ain't innocent," stated Flames teammate and fellow Finn Ville Nieminen.

 "He's really sarcastic and funny."

 Hedberg will attest to that.

 "He is a calm guy and he won't speak too much in a group but if you know him personally, he has a great sense of humour," he said.

 "I had a lot of fun with him. We had a very good time."

 Pressed for other examples, Hedberg didn't want to divulge any additional info.

 After all, there is a bond between goalies.

 "There's a lot of other stories but I can't tell them all," he said with a grin, which makes you positive some beauties from the memory banks were going through his mind.

 However, Nieminen wouldn't hold back.

 "We were at the world junior at a bad hotel," he said.

 "He put lotion and then baby powder on his face to make it really white and then he went to the doctor and said, 'We're really sick because we couldn't close the window.'

 "Stuff like that happens with him pretty often."

 There you go. Like any goalie, Kiprusoff is quirky.

 And that makes him all the better to be around.

 "It's fun to hang out with him because you don't expect anything because he seems so quiet," Nieminen said. "And you don't have a clue what will come out next."


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