Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Devils Legend and Future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer Retires

By: Tim Brennan

Although having once "retired" so to speak only to come back part way through a season, Scott Niedermayer has stated that he is done for good. Niedermayer made the announcement June 22nd, putting an end to a magnificent career that spanned 18 NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks.

Niedermayer goes down in hockey history as being the only player to ever win the Stanley Cup, Olympic gold, the World and World Junior Championship, the World Cup and the Memorial Cup. Along with the countless championships, Niedermayer has collected a Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP when he was a member of the Cup winning Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07 and a Norris Trophy for best defenseman in 2003-04 for New Jersey. He played in 5 All Star Games and was selected on 3 occasions for the NHL First All Star Team (2003-04, 2005-06, 2006-07) and once for the Second All Star Team (1997-98).

Anyone can make a case for Niedermayer being one of the best defensemen of all time and most certainly was one of the best defenders of the past decade. Known more for his ability to skate past players as if they were standing still, Niedermayer combined a strong defensive capability with a forward's offensive touch. If he had played in the beginning stages of the NHL's history, he would have been considered a "rover". That player was the one individual that could play whatever they wanted to and usually played as a forward and defenseman, thus the name "rover". Once he joined the Devils, his defense improved under the guidance of Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko and he turned out to be one of the best shutdown defenders during his long career.

During his tenure with the Devils that spanned over 13 seasons, Niedermayer tallied 101 goals and 364 assists for 465 points in 892 regular season games, good enough for .52 points per game. Niedermayer's strengths showed through in the playoffs as well, posting 17 goals and 64 points in 146 post-season games leading to a .44 points per game average. Niedermayer's two way ability helped aid New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995, where they faced the Detroit Red Wings. The talented crew from New Jersey swept the Wings in 4, making it the first Stanley Cup victory in the team's history. The Devils would win two more times with Niedermayer on the roster (2000 and 2003). The Edmonton, Alberta native tied the NHL record for most shorthanded goals by a defenseman (2) in the playoffs during the 2000 Cup run and tied the team lead in points during their 2003 journey to glory.

Although he may go down as one of the most prolific defensemen in hockey history, Niedermayer was overshadowed by Stevens and Daneyko while playing for the Devils. The attention those two shutdown, defensive defensemen got helped Niedermayer sneak under the radar in his first few seasons. No doubt Devils fans felt the impact of Niedermayer's departure in 2005. It's amazing to look back at how his career came to fruition and how he blossomed into the best two-way defender in the game during his 18 year career. Niedermayer will stay with the game, whether it's a job in the front office or player development or even coaching. Due to everything that he has accomplished over the years, Niedermayer will be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.

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