Antti Raanta disputed a report in a Finnish newspaper that he was rooting against the Blackhawks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I have never said anything like that,” Raanta told the Sun-Times.
Raanta, who lost his job as the Hawks’ backup goaltender to Scott Darling late in the season, wanted to continue playing for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL during their playoff push. Instead, he was called up as an extra goaltender for the playoffs with virtually no chance of playing. The story in Ilta-Sanomat quoted Raanta as being upset by the move, and hoping the Hawks would lose quickly so he could return to Finland for the offseason. The story also said Raanta believed Hawks coach Joel Quenneville never liked him.
Raanta, as he said in April, reiterated Wednesday that he was “frustrated” at first. But he said his frustration didn’t last long.
“It only took one day,” he said. “[Because] then I came to Chicago and saw my teammates, and everybody was so happy to see me. So it was [a] big help for the first couple days.”
Raanta was traded to the New York Rangers in June. He’ll likely back up star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, meaning he’ll be at the United Center for their banner-raising ceremony on Oct. 7, when the Hawks host the Rangers.
“I’m not that kind of guy that I would say something like that, and hope my team to lose, even if I’m not paying goalie,” Raanta said.
NOTE: The Hawks agreed to a one-year contract with restricted free agent Joakim Nordstrom. The 23-year-old forward had three assists in 38 games with the Hawks this past season, and played in three playoff games. He had nine goals and seven assists in 23 games with Rockford, where he was team captain.