Devils at Ducks Preview: A Tribute to Scott Niedermayer

Bruce Bennett

Since we didn't get the chance to adequately cover his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame last week, we thought now would be the perfect time to do so since both of his former teams are set to square off tonight in Anaheim.

If you're any kind of a hockey fan at all, you more than likely already know that Scott Niedermayer was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 11th to cap off an illustrious career with one final honor.

Scott Neidermayer is arguably one of the best defensemen ever to play the game and it's more than fitting to see his name now enshrined amongst the legends. Likewise, he's a special hero to us here at Anaheim Calling and Anaheim Ducks fans everywhere.

Niedermayer was instrumental in Anaheim's run to the 2007 Stanley Cup title, playing nearly a half-hour per game of ice time alongside Francois Beauchemin. His play was so good in fact that it led to him winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of those playoffs. Admittedly many guys could have won that award (i.e. Samuel Phalsson, Jean-Sebastian Giguere, or Andy MacDonald), but the steady and consistent play of Niedermayer made the choice a pretty simple one for the voters.

However no play was bigger than the goal he scored to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in game five versus the Detroit Red Wings.

So big that to this date this might be the biggest goal in franchise history, as the Ducks would go on to close the series out one game later in Anaheim.

Niedermayer began his career when he was drafted third overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1991, where he would win three Stanley Cup Championships, including the 2003 victory in seven games over the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

I personally remember still reeling from that loss just two years later when it was announced that Anaheim had signed the legendary defenseman as a free agent. Despite receiving several ludicrous offers from numerous teams, Nieds chose us here in Anaheim because he wanted to try to win a Stanley Cup with his brother as opposed to robbing him of another one.

Boy aren't we grateful.

He was immediately given the team's captaincy and the Ducks went on to make the Western Conference Finals in 2006 before losing. It would take only one more year for arguably the most powerful team in franchise history to climb to the top of the hockey world, knocking off the Ottawa Senators in a five-game stomping that much of Canada likes to pretend never happened. Both he and Chris Pronger were nominated for the Norris Trophy for best defenseman that year, but both were beaten by Nick Lidstrom in still further proof that the NHL Awards are 100% fair, unbiased, and completely not rigged for big markets.

Trying to put Scott Niedermayer's play into words is difficult because it's hard to describe a defenseman who played as much offense as he did without falling hard down the plus-minus table (a la Cam Fowler). His beautiful blend of superb skating skill and masterful vision on the ice meant he was rarely in the wrong spot. When he was, he had the speed to bail himself out of it. Likewise this style of play demanded superb conditioning, and it was stunning to see him come off the ice after a two-minute shift and he would barely even be breathing hard. The man was in unbelievable shape.

In all, Scotty's amazing career led him to a World Junior gold medal, two Olympic gold medals, four Stanley Cups, one Norris Trophy, three First-Team All-Star selections, and having his distinctive 27 jersey number retired in New Jersey. I'm sure it will follow suit in Anaheim as soon as Teemu Selanne's stash of mysterious liquid from the Fountain of Youth runs dry.

Today we're lucky to still have Scotty around the organization as an assistant coach, specializing in training our young defensemen. I personally can't think of a better guy for Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm to learn from.

And now a few classic moments from Scotty's career.

I especially love the huge dump they take on the Dallas Stars starting about 8:45 in this one.

And in case you missed it: Scotty's speech from his induction:

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