Scott Niedermayer honoured by city
In the history of the great game that Canada proudly proclaims as its own, no single player has achieved more team success than Cranbrook’s Scott Niedermayer.
‘Have Niedermayer; win championship’ is perhaps the best and quickest way to describe his career, in which he won league titles at every level.
He is the only player to win every major North American and international hockey championship available to a Canadian player.
He is one of only 25 players to belong to the ‘Triple Gold Club,’ where players have won an Olympic Gold Medal, a World Championship gold and the Stanley Cup – the three titles the International Ice Hockey Federation holds with the highest esteem.
What separates Niedermayer from his fellow club members are the number of times he won some of those titles.
Consider the fact that the majority of players who suit up in the NHL never play for, let alone win, a Stanley Cup. Niedermayer won four cups (three with the New Jersey Devils and one with the Anaheim Ducks).
He captured two Olympic Gold Medals, the first in 2002 – when Canada won gold for the first time in 50 years. The last one was his career swan song in 2010 when he captained Team Canada to Gold in the Vancouver Games.
Thanks to a down year for his Devils in 2004, Niedermayer took part in the World Championship, helping that team of non-playoff bound players capture gold. Later that year he helped lead Canada to a World Cup title.
He also played in five NHL All-Star games.
Born August 31, 1973, the left shooting Niedermayer played 17 seasons in the NHL, most (12) with the Devils, with the final five seasons as a member of the Ducks.
His first taste of NHL action came in 1991 when he laced up for four games with the Devils – the same number of games experienced by a fellow rookie teammate that year – Martin Brodeur. Scott posted one assist, two penalty minutes (PIM) and was a plus one in those four games before being sent back to the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Kamloops Blazers for a final season. In three seasons and 156 games with the Blazers, Niedermayer scored 47 goals and 143 assists (190 points) and amassed 177 PIM.
While with the Blazers, Niedermayer won two WHL championships and led them to the 1992 Memorial Cup title, where he was also selected as MVP of that tourney. The year before he helped Canada capture gold at the World Junior Championship. His number 28 was retired by the Blazers organization in December 2012.
The Devils also retired No. 27 on Dec. 16, 2011.
Like the Kootenay ICE, Niedermayer was born in Edmonton, Alta. However, he spent his first three years in Cassiar before moving to Cranbrook with his family – father Bob, a well-known area doctor and hockey coach and mom Carol who taught him to skate, and younger brother Rob, who also enjoyed a fruitful and solid NHL career.
Despite being considered small for a defenseman (6’, 200 lbs or 183 cm/91 kg), Niedermayer stayed relatively healthy through his career, finishing with 1,263 regular season games played in 17 seasons. He compiled 172 goals and 568 assists for 740 points (as well as 784 PIM). Twenty-three percent (39) of his regular season goals were game winners.
In 202 playoff games he scored 25 goals and 73 assists for 98 points, with eight game winning goals.
His finest offensive season came in 2006/07, the year he led the Ducks to their first and only Stanley Cup, scoring 15 goals and 54 assists.
With all that in mind and wishing to honour a special city son, the City of Cranbrook Dec. 27 presented Scott with a plaque recognizing his hockey playing deeds during a Kootenay ICE pre-game ceremony at Western Financial Place. Joining Scott at centre ice were his wife Lisa and four sons Logan, Jackson, Joshua and Luke, as well as Mayor Wayne Stetski and Councillor Angus Davis.
“This is a special place. Having grown up here, it’s where the passion for the game began. This is where I learned to love the game. I have a ton of great memories,” Niedermayer said, speaking to more than 2,900 people – the largest crowd of the season for the ICE.
He humbly thanked his parents and brother, as well as his wife and kids “for being a big part” of the success he enjoyed professionally, and noted he played with and for too many players and coaches to adequately mention them all.
“I played for some great organizations in New Jersey and Anaheim, with some great players and I had great benefits playing with them, winning four Stanley Cups and having a lot of fun there as well. Playing for Team Canada was a huge thrill. Every time you put that jersey on and to win two gold medals for your country, it means a lot,” he said before being drowned out by applause and cheers.
Following the plaque presentation, Niedermayer performed a ceremonial puck drop with ICE assistant captain Jagger Dirk, filling in for captain Sam Reinhart currently playing for Canada’s World Junior Championship team, and Spokane Chiefs’ captain Reid Gow taking the draw.
Now calling Newport Beach, California home as he serves as an assistant coach with the red hot Ducks, currently sitting atop the NHL standings, Niedermayer and family were in town spending time with family over the holidays.
While his hockey career keeps him south of the border, Cranbrook is “still home,” Niedermayer said following the plaque ceremony.
The warm response from the large crowd “felt good,” he said.
The plaque presented by the mayor and city will be on display full time in Western Financial Place.
One of the game’s most cerebral players during his career, Niedermayer has shown courage of convictions off the rink in the last decade, adding his voice to the chorus opposed to the Jumbo Glacier Resort proposal, citing his love of the region’s wilderness and desire to see it preserved as the reasons.
Scott Niedermayer career timeline
1988/89 – Leads Cranbrook Blazers midget team with 55 goals and 92 points.
1989/90 – Makes Kamloops Blazers of the WHL and helps team win President’s Cup as league champs.
1990/91 – Leads Blazers with 82 points in 57 games; Western Conference All-Star selection. Also given Doc Seaman Trophy as WHL scholastic player of the year and also chosen CHL Scholastic Player of the Year.
1991 – Wins gold with Team Canada in World Junior Championship.
1991 – Drafted third overall by the New Jersey Devils in NHL Entry Draft.
1992 – Plays on sixth place Team Canada team in WJC.
1992 – Blazers win second President’s Cup as WHL champs; Niedermayer selected as all-star again; and he leads Blazers to Memorial Cup Championship, also winning the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as tourney MVP.
1992 – Becomes full time NHLer.
1992 – scores first NHL goal on November 8, against San Jose Sharks netminder Brian Hayward.
1993 – Named to NHL all-rookie All-Star Team.
1994/95 – Devils win first Stanley Cup in lockout shortened season.
1996 – Scores a goal and three assists in World Cup of Hockey; Canada loses to USA in finals.
1998 – Plays in his first NHL All-Star Game.
1998 – Joins Utah Grizzlies of the International Hockey League during contract holdout that lasts one month. Plays five games with them.
2000- The Peter Worrell incident in which a violated Niedermayer retaliates to an elbow by clobbering the Florida Panthers goon on the head with his stick, earning a 10-game suspension.
2000- Leads Devils to second Stanley Cup title. Later celebrates title by hoisting Stanley Cup atop Fisher Peak captured in famous photo.
2000/2001 – Holds out two months in contract dispute but returns to help lead Devils to finals, losing to the Colorado Avalanche in seven games. Also on receiving end of vicious Tie Domi elbow during first round series against Toronto Maple Leafs.
2002 – Helps Canada to first Olympic Gold Medal in 50 years
2002/03 – Helps lead Devils to third Stanley Cup title against brother Rob’s Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
2003-04 – Wins James Norris Trophy as NHL’s top defenseman
2004 – Helps Canada win World Cup of Hockey and later a World Championship.
2004/05 – NHL season lost to lockout.
2005-06 – Signs with Anaheim Mighty Ducks.; gets to play with brother Rob.
2006 – Plays in 1,000th game Nov. 28 versus Edmonton Oilers.
2006 – Knee injury forces him to miss second Olympics. Canada sorely misses his talents, finishing out of the medals.
2006-07 – Wins Conn Smyth Trophy as MVP of playoffs during Anaheim Ducks’ Stanley Cup victory.
2009-10 – Final season in NHL. Retires June 22, 2010.
2010 – Captains Team Canada to Olympic Gold Medal in Vancouver Games.
2011 – New Jersey Devils retire his #27.
2012 – Inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. Joins Anaheim Ducks as assistant coach.
2013 – Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
2013 – Dec. 27 – honoured by hometown City of Cranbrook in front of 2,900 Kootenay ICE fans.