This week, Anaheim Calling has been all about the life and times of Teemu Selanne, however today we must take a short break to acknowledge another All-Time Ducks great. Tonight, Scott Niedermayer's number 27 will be raised to the rafters of the Prudential Center in New Jersey.
While I take issue with the fact that this isn't being done on February 17 when the Ducks are in Newark so that both of his clubs could honor him, tonight's tribute is not about his time in Anaheim (quite the contrary actually, for those of us who remember 2003). In that same vein, I'll restrain myself from making the case for the Ducks to match the honor. For the record though, I believe 27 should one day hang alongside 8, 9 and 35 for Sandis Ozolinsh, Bobby Ryan and Mikhail Shtalenkov, of course (Kidding ... you know who I mean).
Obscure Tangent: In researching Scotty's career I found that he played five games (scoring 0-2-2 with a -5) in the 1998-'99 season with the Utah Grizzlies, then of the IHL, during a contract dispute with the Devils before signing a two year $3.5 million contract (half a million less than his asking price) to stay in Jersey. Negotiating with Lou Lamoriello is clearly a milestone of every Devil's career, but I digress.
Scott Niedermayer was one of the top three defensemen of his generation. In New Jersey, he was a key component alongside Scott Stevens, Ken Danyko and, later, Brian Rafalski, in forming one of the most formidable and influential defense corps (and systems) in hockey history.
In 13 seasons with the Devils he put up 119 goals and 398 assists for 517 of his 740 career points, won three Stanley Cups (1995, 2000 & 2003), a Norris Trophy (2004) and one of his two Olympic Gold Medals (2002). The only thing missing from that resume is the Conn Smythe trophy that many (Devils fans) believed he deserved in 2003, but which he made up for here in Anaheim in 2007.
The timing of his departure to play with his brother in Anaheim, coming out of the lockout, is a bit of a sore spot in New Jersey. The same year that they lost Stevens to retirement, and two years (one season) after Danyko's career came to a close, Niedermayer's exit devastated the Devils' blue line which hasn't been the same since. Despite some resentment among the fans, the organization welcomes him back tonight to take his rightful place in the history of the franchise, joining the aforementioned Stevens and Danyko as the third member of an exclusive club that awaits only Martin Brodeur.
I'm sure we'll revisit this again in the fall of 2013 when he makes his way to Toronto for his Hall of Fame induction, but for now: Congratulations Scotty, on a great career and a well deserved honor.