Date: Sunday, February 17th, 2019
Time: 6:00 PT / 9:00 ET
Location: Honda Center
Your Enemy: Japers Rink
1st in goals by defensemen
1st in assists by defensemen
1st in points by defensemen
1st in game-winning goals by defensemen
1st in power play goals by defensemen
1st in assists per game by defensemen
1st in points per game by defensemen
Conn Smyth Trophy
Hockey Hall of Famer
Scott Niedermayer may have only played in Anaheim for five seasons, but those five seasons were the greatest run by a defenseman in Ducks history.
It’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that he had this much impact as a blueliner well into his early-to-mid 30s.
The ever-humble superstar has approached this weekend like most of his career: shining the light away from himself and onto others.
“I’m pretty confident in saying it’s happening because of winning the Stanley Cup,” Niedermayer said. “I wasn’t here a long time, or as long as Paul and Teemu were. I think I have a good idea of why the organization chose to do it, and I appreciate that. I didn’t expect it, but it’s a very humbling thing. It’s not just one year. It’s not just one thing. It speaks to the big picture of everything you tried to contribute and who you are.”
Sure, the Stanley Cup win has a lot to do with this retirement ceremony. Even though many see him more as a New Jersey Devil (with good reason, having his number retired in Newark in 2011 and boasting three championships), Anaheim has a special place in the hearts of both Niedermayer as well as Ducks fans.
One season removed from crushing the Mighty Ducks hopes and dreams in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, Niedermayer turned down more money elsewhere to join his brother Rob Niedermayer in Anaheim in 2005 in an attempt to fulfill his dream of lifting the cup alongside family. His elite status and legendary leadership reputation earned him the captaincy immediately upon his arrival, which he held until his retirement in 2010.
After acquiring Chris Pronger during the 2006 offseason, Niedermayer realized his dream of hoisting the Stanley Cup and passing it immediately to his brother.
“You don’t really dream of passing it to your brother,” he said of the moment. “I never have. To be able to do that is definitely a highlight of my career.”
Along with the Cup victory, Niedermayer’s impact has extended for years even after his retirement.
Current captain Ryan Getzlaf had several years to learn under one of the greatest leaders of all time, a model that he says still impacts him to this day.
He became a special consult to Bob Murray the following season and became a Special Assignment Coach with the Ducks in 2012, focusing on the development of young players entering the Ducks organization in both the minors and in the NHL. A fitting role given his reputation as one of the greatest and smoothest skaters the game has ever seen.
Last year, Niedermayer left his coaching post and Orange County to move to Kelowna, British Columbia in an effort to support his son who joined the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League with an eventual goal of moving to Division I NCAA hockey.
But his return to Anaheim to watch his number join Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya in the rafters has given him and the fans a time to reflect on the massive impact he had in his limited time with the franchise.
Longevity with a team is certainly a factor when considering a number retirement. While five years isn’t exactly a long time, when you consider that Niedermayer remains either at the top or near the top of almost all of the defensive franchise leaderboards in addition to brining the first Stanley Cup championship to California, the accolades and numbers easily make up for the time.
Tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals may see the Ducks continue their lowly ways, but the ceremony beforehand will undoubtedly give Ducks fans and the players a chance to find an overwhelming positive in a dark season.