14 December 2011
So Scott Niedermayer night is coming and I thought now would be a great time to sit down and look back at his time in NJ. My first memory of Scott Niedermayer is actually not about what he did on the ice but what he was doing in the stands. I believe it was during his rookie season in 1993, I was a senior in high school and I went to a Rangers/Devils game with the people I worked with at the time. The owner of the store I worked in mentioned that if I wanted a hot girlfriend, all I had to do was find a Niedermayer jersey in the stands because all the hot girls were wearing them. He spoke the truth because Scott Niedermayer certainly had an effect on the female fan base of the New Jersey Devils. That is until Marty came along!!
As Devils fans, we were extremely lucky because we’ve had two once in a lifetime defenseman play for this organization and we got to see them play right next to each other. Say what you will about how Niedermayer ended his time in NJ, which I will get to in a few minutes but the bottom line is that Scott Niedermayer helped this organization capture 3 cups and get within 1 game of capturing a
4th. The fact that he left this organization and helped another capture a Stanley Cup only proves the kind of leader he is on the ice.
There are two things I will always remember about Scott. The first would have to be his skating ability. He was lightning on skates and a great puck handler (something we've lacked since he left) and while he was technically a defenseman, the other teams had to be aware of his presence on the ice because he could hit the switch from defense to offense and become another scoring threat. In my opinion, he took the term offensive defenseman to a whole new level while being a fantastic defensive player. I think the best example of this was Game 2 against the Red Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals.
The second would be his toughness, which was greatly underrated. I don’t ever remember Niedermayer backing down from another player, a situation or a fight. We all remember the Tie Domi incident and the Peter Worrell incident but the one fight that always plays in my mind was the one he had against Valeri Kamensky of the Rangers that resulted in Niedermayer drop kicking a Rangers jersey to the ice.
If you are unfamiliar with what Niedermayer did in NJ, here is a brief little history courtesy of Wikipedia.
Niedermayer recorded 11 goals and 40 points in his rookie season in 1992–93, enough to be named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. He improved to 46 points in his second NHL season in 1993–94 and embarked on a lengthy playoff run with the Devils to the Eastern Conference finals, where they were defeated by the eventual Stanley Cup champions in seven games. Niedermayer and the Devils followed their near berth in the Stanley Cup Finals with another playoff run the following season in 1995. Facing the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals, the Devils swept the series to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history and Niedermayer's first of his career.
Niedermayer then recorded 33-points and 35-points the next two seasons before emerging with 14 goals and 57 points in 1997–98, his most productive season with the Devils. In 2000, Niedermayer and the Devils won their second Stanley Cup, defeating the Dallas Stars. During the playoffs, Niedermayer tied a record held by both Larry Murphy and Paul Coffey for most shorthanded goals scored by a defenceman in the playoffs with two. The Devils reached the Finals for the second consecutive year in 2001, but were defeated by the Colorado Avalanche in seven games. After a 39-point effort in 2002–03, Niedermayer helped lead the Devils to their third Stanley Cup championship in eight years, though his brother, Rob, was on the losing end, with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. His 18 post-season points marked the highest playoff total of his career and tied teammate Jamie Langenbrunner for the league lead.
In 2003–04, Niedermayer had his second 50-point season with 14 goals and 40 assists. With fellow defencemen Scott Stevens and Brian Rafalski out of the lineup for extended periods for the Devils during the season, he became all the more valuable for the club. He was also given the captaincy in Stevens' absence, beginning on January 9, 2004. That season, Niedermayer won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman, ending Nicklas Lidstrom's three-year hold on the award.
We all remember the picture below of Scott hugging Rob after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003 so when the NHL returned after the lockout of 2004/2005, I don’t think any of us were surprised to see Scott leave NJ to go play with his brother in Anaheim. Lou tried to keep him here, tried to get Rob to NJ instead of the other way around but Brian Burke knew he had what would draw Scott out of NJ. Family is important to Scott which he proved by turning down the maximum amount of money he could be offered to go play with his brother. While some criticized him for it, I was one who respected him for it. Disappointed to see him go but understood.
When I sat down to write this little piece about Scott Niedermayer and what his time meant to the Devils and the fans, I asked Debra for her contribution to the article. I guess you can say that I was a little surprised at her response because she certainly didn’t feel for the guy the way I thought most fans felt about it. She focused in on how he left the organization instead of the years he spent here. While I don’t agree with her, I can see her point and I wonder if there are more people out there that feel the same way? Should the Devils honor a guy by hanging his jersey in the rafters when he chose to leave us for another team? Shouldn’t the honor of having ones jersey in the rafters be reserved for those that stay loyal to a team? I am for putting #27 in the rafters because he was a critical part of the greatest era this organization has ever known but I would be very interested to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment below or email us your comments.