Kukla's Korner Hockey
by David Pavlak on 08/31/11 at 12:30 PM ET
It looks like Devils fans will be seeing a new number hanging from the rafters in the very near future. The latest number to have some buzz surrounding it goes to Scott Niedermayer, and his #27 sweater. This would also keep the line of retired numbers to only defenseman. Though not 100% confirmed there are reports that the Devils will retire Niedermayer’s number this December during a home game against Dallas, but that date and opponent could easily change.
Niedermayer was the definition of consistency on the ice. After the Devils drafted him with the third overall pick in the 1991 draft, he grew to be a star, and was a fan favorite among many of the Devils faithful. He loved to join the rush for the Devils when they were on a break, and combined with Scott Stevens, the Devils had one of the most feared and highly respected defenses in the whole NHL. It didn’t hurt that the Devils also had a stellar young goalie in Martin Brodeur. There is no doubt that Stevens and Niedermayer took a load of weight off the shoulders of their then young goaltender. They helped him become the star he is today.
The accomplishments and awards he has amassed are outrageous. Four Stanley Cups (three with the Devils, one with the Ducks), a Memorial Cup, two Olympic gold medals for Team Canada, World Junior gold medal for Team Canada, IIHF gold medal, and won the World Cup of Hockey. With the amount of gold around his neck, and Stanley Cups won, it is no wonder the people who witnessed Niedermayer play loved him.
There is some backlash that surrounds his departure from New Jersey as Greg Wyshynski points out:
“In 2005, Niedermayer had a choice. He could remain a Devil via a lucrative unrestricted free-agent contract, stabilizing a franchise that was at the end of the Scott Stevens era on its blue line and entering a new trap-unfriendly era in the NHL; or, he could leave for the Anaheim Ducks’ less lucrative offer and play with this brother, Rob.
Niedermayer of course chose the latter, winning the Conn Smythe along with a Stanley Cup in 2007 and solidifying his place as a top three defenseman of his era.
The Devils? Well, if you were going to trace a line from their three-Cup mini-dynasty to their sometimes hapless years under the salary cap and new NHL rules, it begins at Niedermayer’s end in New Jersey.”
I have grown up watching Niedermayer, and he always seemed to be a good guy, on and off the ice. That was a rare thing to see, so I admired it. He left the Devils to play with his brother. Of all the reasons you could think of to ever hate the guy, that can’t be one of them. He had done so much for New Jersey at that point in his career, that going to play with his brother would be a nice transition. It’s respectable, and anyone who can’t see past the “oh he left us for them” argument did not appreciate what Niedermayer did for New Jersey.
After he transitioned over to the Ducks, he picked up right where he left off; winning. Consistency, poise, hockey-smarts, and a winning attitude were some of his greatest traits. Perhaps his biggest attribute was his ability to lead. During times where Stevens was out injured, Niedermayer stepped right up to the plate to captain the team. When he went over to Anaheim, he wore the “C” as well. During his time with Team Canada, he once again was the captain of tthe team. The common denominator of all these different teams is that they were winners. His ability to lead on the ice translated to a winning team.
His numbers and statistics don’t do enough justice to his legacy, although I sure any defenseman would love to have his numbers at the end of their career. The Devils should rush to finalize and announce the number retirement ceremony. In a few more years, the Devils will also have to add Brodeur and Patrik Elias to the list of numbers growing in the rafters. For now, it is only right to do Niedermayer the justice he deserves. He is also a lock for the Hall Of Fame when the time comes for it.
Through his immaculate career and retirement, one thing is for sure. Scott Niedermayer is a hockey legend.
What do you think about Scott Niedermayer and his career?
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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