On Tuesday, June 22, 2010, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer announced his retirement after 18 seasons in NHL. Niedermayer was one of the best defenseman of the millennial years and will definitely be a first ballot hall of famer.
Scott Niedermayer is only 36 years old and it looked like he still had some good years left in him. Sadly, Niedermayer decided to call it quits on Tuesday, in a move that one can not help but respect.
You see Niedermayer did something that so few athletes do in this day and age; retire on top before their game begins to fade away. Most guys stick around long past their prime and do not know when enough is enough (i.e. Chris Chelios). When they do this, watching them struggle to play the game like they used to is very difficult to watch and it is very sad.
What athletes fail to realize is,that by continuing to play the game when you are long past your prime you can damage your image. Instead of being remembered for being an outstanding athlete, people will remember you for not giving up the game when maybe you should have.
Niedermayer did the right thing Tuesday, and in many ways he really did go out on top.
Scott Niedermayer broke into the NHL in 1991, as a 19-year-old rookie defenseman for the New Jersey Devils. He only played in four games in the 1991-1992 season and registered just an assist, but the next season he would go on to become a starting defenseman.
In his first full NHL season, Niedermayer scored 11 goals and 29 assists totaling 40 points. He was also able to establish himself as an effective weapon on the power play by scoring 5 goals and 14 points. From this season on, Niedermayer would be one of the best power play players in the NHL.
When he hung up the skates on Tuesday, Scott Niedermayer ended his career with 90 goals and 245 assists on the power play, which are some pretty impressive numbers. He was always the man on the point during the power play and if you want to see what a good point man is supposed to do on the power-play go back and watch how Niedermayer did it. He was like a quarterback when he was out there on the power play and his career numbers showed just how good he was.
After Scott Niedermayer became an everyday starter for the Devils, the team’s success began to grow. They began to make the playoffs consistently and in the 1993-1994 season the team came just a game away from the Stanley Cup Finals.
In the 1994-1995 season, Niedermayer alongside fellow great defenseman Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Bruce Driver, and Tommy Albelin, the New Jersey Devils captured the Stanley Cup after sweeping the Detroit Red Wings in four games. The Stanley Cup victory was the first in franchise history and the first of Niedermayer’s career. Many consider this to be Niedermayer’s breaking out, and the most memorable event of the series was Niedermayer’s incredible end-to-end goal in Game 2.
From here on out, the Devils were a team that would become known for their ability to win games and for their great defense. In the following seasons, Scott Niedermayer would continue to grow as an outstanding defenseman with some offensive ability as well. He would also go on to be an alternate captain for the Devils and he played with that title for years, behind captain Scott Stevens.
In 1999, Brian Rafalski joined the New Jersey Devils’ defense and it would create two of the best defensive lines in the NHL; Scott Stevens & Ken Daneyko and Scott Niedermayer & Brian Rafalski. The solid defense of the Devils was one of the main reasons they made three Stanley Cup Final appearances from 2000-2003.
Niedermayer and the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 2000 and 2003, and they fell to the Colorado Avalanche in the 2001 final.
Niedermayer had an outstanding playoff performance in 2003 en route to the championship. He shared the most playoff points in the league with 18 that year alongside teammate Jamie Langenbrunner.
In the season following the 2003 Stanley Cup victory, Ken Daneyko retired and the Devils watched Scott Stevens and Brian Rafalski fall to injury and it was up to Niedermayer to carry and lead the young and inexperienced defense. Niedermayer did a great job in doing so and he was even named captain that season in Steven’s absence. He put up 50 points for just the second time in his career and he was awarded the Norris Trophy at the end of the season for being the leagues best defenseman.
Sadly, after the lockout Scott Niedermayer decided to leave the New Jersey Devils after spending 12 seasons with the Devils. Niedermayer left the Devils to go play in Anaheim alongside his brother Rob. The Ducks signed him to a four-year $27 million deal in 2005 . The Ducks also decided to name him the team captain at the start of the season.
Niedermayer would continue to shine in Anaheim and he finally got the opportunity to show the world his offensive abilities in addition to his outstanding defense. In his first season as a Duck he put up 63 points and the following year he put up 69 points. These were numbers he could not put up in New Jersey due to their commitment to a defensive style of hockey. A style they proved to be successful.
In Niedermayer’s second season as a Duck they added Chris Pronger, and him and Niedermayer would help lead the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
It was Niedermayer’s fourth Stanley Cup in his career and he had yet another excellent post season. A post season where he had such a great performance and displayed such a tremendous amount of leadership, that he earned the Conn Smythe trophy for being the playoff MVP.
Niedermayer thought about retiring after the cup and it appeared that he did, but then in December of 2007 he announced he would return and play the rest of the season. He would go on to play two more seasons with the Ducks, before announcing his retirement on Tuesday.
Not only was Niedermayer an outstanding NHL player, but he also displayed his talent at the international level while playing for team Canada. Niedermayer was two gold medals while playing for Canada in the Olympics in 2002 and this past February. He was also the team captain for the 2010 Canadian team. He was also part of the Canada team that won the World Cup in 2004 and the World Championships in the same year.
It is very sad to think we will no longer be able to watch this great defenseman play anymore. I watched him play for most of his career and I have to say that I’m proud he was a New Jersey Devil and it was in many parts thanks to him that the team was as successful as it was. Other players looked up to him and he was a great role model to young players. Niedermayer was never one to let his teammates or the fans down.
When all was said and done this week, Niedermayer finished up his career with 172 goals and 568 assists, totaling 740 career points. These are some impressive numbers, especially for a defenseman.
Niedermayer will always be remembered for his tremendous amount of skill as a defenseman, leadership, ability to win, and before I forget to mention it, his talent and speed as a skater.
Niedermayer was one the fastest hockey players in the league during his time and it played a role in what made him great at defense. He made it look so easy by the way he skated so smoothly and calmly. Most guys would try with everything they had in them to go full speed, but he did it using very little effort. His skating ability was put on display at several All-Star weekend skills competitions, where he often won the fastest skater.
When Niedermayer called it quits Tuesday, it got me thinking a lot about the past Devils teams and how they never really were the same after he left. Neidermayer brought a different element to the team and it was an element they still have not replaced defensively and in the locker room.
His track record speaks for himself. The guy is a flat-out winner and always has been. Even with the way he went out Tuesday, he went out a winner and at the top of his game.
Thanks for the memories Scott. You are and always will be one of the best defenseman and hockey players to ever play the game. I can only hope that one day the Devils organization does the right thing and raises number 27 to the rafters, as it is beyond well deserved. I mean let’s be honest here. Niedermayer is going to be a first ballot hall of famer.If Daneyko and Stevens are up there already it just would not be right to leave out the guy who is just as good, if not better than the two jerseys already hanging up there.
Happy retirement Scott Niedermayer. Number 27 forever.