When his team, the San Jose Sharks, were eliminated from the playoffs, star blue-liner and team captain Rob Blake decided to hang up the skates. Yesterday, one of his colleagues decided to join him. Anaheim Mighty Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer announced his retirement yesterday from the game he gave more than 17 years of his life to.
It's possible that the two veterans saw the finalists for the Norris Trophy award for best defenseman to be given out tonight, and decided it wasn't their time anymore. The average age of the three finalists Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, and Mike Green who finished as the top three in scoring for defensemen, is 23.
Niedermayer, 36, and Blake, 40, aren't spring chickens anymore and they now have passed the torch to the next generation.
Blake finished his career with 777 points, 18th all time for a blue-liner. He came into the league in 1989 for the L.A. Kings and was known more for his size and racking up penalty minutes than his scoring. However, big No. 4 managed to put together six 50-point seasons over his career with the Kings, Avalanche and Sharks.
He won one Norris Trophy in 1998, and won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001. Blake also helped Team Canada to two gold medals in the World Championships and one gold in the Olympics in 2002.
Scott Niedermayer, finished his 17-year NHL career with some very impressive stats. Four Stanley Cup victories, one Norris Trophy, one Conn Smythe Trophy, two Olympic gold medals for Canada (the most recent as captain of the superstar roster), two World Cup gold medals, a career rating of +167, and only 784 penalty minutes in 1,263 games.
Niedermayer will be missed for his leadership on and off the ice and for being an example for all future defensive players for how the game should be played.
With these two great players calling it a career we have to now look to the future of the NHL's defenders and hope they can play out their careers the way Blake and Niedermayer did, with class and the ability to get it done.