UPDATE: Raanta denies that he wanted the Hawks to lose in the playoffs. "It’s pretty a shitty situation right now because everyone’s thinking the worst about me, that I’m the stupidest person in the world," Raanta said. "That’s not what I want to be, and that’s not what I am. Of course, I’m really upset about the whole situation, how it turned out."
We always knew Raanta cared a lot about his job and this just sounds like someone who said some things in a moment of frustration. Happens to the best of us. Glad to know we can go back to liking Antti again.
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Antti Raanta spent a few years with the Chicago Blackhawks and never quite broke through. After being passed up by the team in favor of Scott Darling as Corey Crawford's primary backup, Raanta apparently felt hurt enough by the situation to want his team to lose, according to Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski.
Here are the translated quotes out of Finland, via PD:
"I was really hoping Nashville would beat us in four games and I could get back to Finland. I was [so pissed off] about how Chicago was treating me," Raanta said. Apparently he didn't get along with coach Joel Quenneville. "I noticed that coach didn't like me, in that position it is pretty difficult to fight the windmills."
This is fairly surprising to see from Raanta given that he had become a fan favorite in Chicago for his jovial presence and positive attitude. Nobody ever really suspected that the 26-year-old was unhappy with the way the team treated him, even after he was traded to the New York Rangers in June. You just got the sense that he was the odd man out with Crawford and Darling signed to long-term deals.
Some wonder if Raanta's quotes have been taken out of context, and that certainly seems possible. The goaltender didn't exactly sound angry when the team moved him this summer:
One more thing @NHLBlackhawks Fans you rock! All the nice words what u have said to me i really appreciate and i will always remember u guys— Antti Raanta (@ARaanta31) June 28, 2015
Raanta was also seen wearing his Hawks jersey while celebrating his Stanley Cup day, although I imagine that's standard procedure for players who just won a championship with a team.
It's hard to imagine Raanta airing his grievances to the press like that, but it would be easy to see why he would be upset to lose his backup spot last season given how well he played. After an up-and-down debut in 2013-14, Raanta had a .936 save percentage and 1.89 goals allowed average in 14 games with Chicago last season. Those are the kinds of numbers that would generally make an NHL goaltender assume he won't lose his job to a longtime journeyman who had previously never really even threatened to make it at the top level.
Still, Darling's talent became quite apparent throughout the 2014-15 season, and nobody was really surprised when he emerged over Raanta as the team's No. 2 goalie. What's more surprising is that Raanta was apparently this upset but never let anyone know until now.
It's a shame that this is part of how the Hawks and Raanta are moving on after a couple fun years together, but it's a reminder that even the nicest hockey player is a really, really competitive dude. Or maybe this quote doesn't really reflect how he feels since it seems so out of character. Anyway, don't be surprised if the Hawks have some extra kick to their game if they happen to face Raanta next season.