When talking about Scott Niedermayer, where does one begin. From being drafted 3rd overall, to his 4 Stanley Cups and 2 gold medals (the only player to win that many of each), to being the only player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup, Gold Medal, World Cup, World Championship, World Junior Championship, and World Cup. He is a workhorse, constantly playing averaging over 25 (if not 30) minutes a game while in Anaheim. But for me, it all comes back to three things, his skating, his humble nature, and his desire to be close to his family.
When the Ducks signed Scotty after the lockout, I knew that they were getting a special player (who had beaten the Ducks in the 03 Cup Finals), but I didn’t realize what he could do until I really got to see him live for the first time. Something that my dad said once sums it all up. While at a pre-season game in my senior year of high school, my dad and I got our first chance to see Scotty play. And at one point, he just turned to me and said “wow, Scotty is just such an amazing skater.” That right there sums it up perfectly. I never really thought that I could really enjoy watching someone skate laps on a hockey rink, until I watched Scotty glide effortlessly across the ice. While he probably isn’t the best skater to ever play in the NHL (that honor I would reserve for Bobby Orr), he is certainly the best skater that I have ever had the pleasure of watching.
At Niedermayer’s press conference, he decided that he needed to thank everyone that he could think of. Before starting, he apologized that it would take him several minutes to do this. From coaches, players, general managers, and owners to fans and the media to specifically naming equipment staff in both Anaheim and New Jersey, Scotty made sure to thank every person that he could think of. And while reading through the names, he had trouble keeping his composure, stopping several times so he wouldn’t start crying. He thanked them all and kept saying how lucky he was to play with such great people, that they were the reason he had been able to win so much in his career.
Scott Niedermayer is a family man. He came to Anaheim to play with his brother Rob and help him win a Stanley Cup. When asked what the highlight of his career was, Scotty couldn’t settle on one thing, but he chose 3: winning his first Cup in NJ, winning the gold medal in Canada a few months ago, and winning the Stanley Cup with his brother here in Anaheim. Traditionally, when the team wins the Stanley Cup, the captain is handed it and he gets to skate around the rink celebrating, before handing it off to whoever is next in line. Scott did it a little differently. He hoisted the Stanley Cup above his head for all to see, and then called his brother over and handed it to him. He didn’t skate around with it, he just handed it to Rob, letting him finally touch it for the first time in his career.
Five years ago, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks signed Scott Niedermayer, and he was quickly named captain of the team. In his first season here, he led the Ducks to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to Edmonton. In his second season here (now as an Anaheim Duck), Scott led the team to its first and only Pacific Division title, and then led them to the Stanley Cup Finals. It was in against Ottawa where Scotty really showed what kind of leader he was. In game 4 when Daniel Alfredsson shot the puck directly at Scotty as the period ended, things could have erupted and some Ducks could have made some very bad decisions.
Everyone wanted a piece of Alfredsson. But Scotty was able to calm the team down and cooler heads prevailed. The Ducks came out of the locker room and retaliated on the scoreboard. In game 5, Scotty once again led the charge, picking up a key assist on Travis Moen’s 2nd goal of the night, ending almost any hope of an Ottawa comeback (Perry’s goal with just a few minutes left in the game was the final nail in the Senators coffin).
When the game ended, Scotty was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP for the Ducks. Even though his offensive numbers weren’t stellar, he scored goals at crucial moments. From his overtime series clinching goal against Vancouver (when Luongo wasn’t looking and no one knew the puck was in) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_bvGvy67T0
, to his game tying goal in the final minute of game 5 against Detroit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAeOfl0psaM
, keeping the Ducks alive and allowing Teemu to win the game in overtime. And one of my favorite moments will be seeing Scott pass the Cup to his brother Rob, a truly special moment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgHS5XqqOXA
(go to the 6:40 mark to see Scott hoisting the Cup).
Thank for being the best captain the Ducks have ever had, thank you for being the best defenseman the Ducks have ever had, thank you for helping bring some legitimacy to the Ducks, thank you for all you accomplishments and all your achievements. But most of all, thank you for all the memories that I got to share with my father watching you play.