Remembering Niedermayer: NHL Ducks and Fans Forced to Move On
When we remember something or someone, we tend to focus on the good, rather than the bad. We work to make ourselves happy and forget about any frustrating moments that a time or person may have caused.
When I am remembering Scott Niedermayer and his contributions on the ice and the world outside of hockey, only good things come to my mind.
I had the pleasure of watching "Scotty" from the time I was a little kid, while he was in New Jersey, to watching him captain my favorite sports team, the Anaheim Ducks. I can't remember a time where I wasn't impressed with his ability to play the game. His skating never had and in my opinion, never will have an equal.
He had a brilliant defensive mind. He always seemed to able to make the right move, whether it was to cut off a forward entering the zone or even quickly make up for his mistake on the few occasions that he was beat.
Most importantly he was as great a leader and an equally great man.
Always one to lead by example and never the vocal type, Scott Niedermayer was, in my view, the epitome of class.
He never wanted the attention focused on himself and always made sure everyone, on and off the ice, was mentioned for their participation. Even during his retirement speech, Niedermayer made sure to mention everyone: from the New Jersey Devil's owners, to the athletic training staff.
However, if Scott Niedermayer is remembered for only one thing, it's winning.
Niedermayer's awards seem endless. From the Memorial Cup, to his four Stanley Cup wins, paired with the Norris and Conn Symthe Trophies, his accomplishments seem insurmountable.
Throughout his 18-year career, Niedermayer only missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs, twice. He brought with him a winning tradition; His winning touch was passed from the New Jersey Devils to the Anaheim Ducks. The Canadian National Team was also a recipient of his Midas Touch, winning the gold medal in five out of six international competitions he participated in.
Neidermayer's off-ice contributions are just as notable as his abilities on ice. He is a strong supporter of the "Green Movement" and has been outspoken on his feelings about global warming.
But of course with the absence of one of the best defensemen to play the game missing from your team's roster, it means its time to move forward, use what you have learned from the best, and put it to good use for your future.
With Niedermayer's retirement from the NHL, Anaheim is left feeling much the same way New Jersey felt when he left in 2005; Happy to have had him on their roster but slightly empty as they focus on filling the void that Niedermayer leaves behind.
Anaheim is in a very precarious defensive situation with Scotty leaving the team. James Wisniewski is a pending restricted free agent, Lubomir Visnovski might be able to anchor the power play with his strong shot but Anaheim now lacks one major thing for sure: A defensive minded leader.
The Ducks' General Manager, Bob Murray, has a lot of work to do this off-season to try and soften the blow of losing Niedermayer, and it all starts this Friday with the NHL Entry Draft.
Either through draft, trade, or free agency, Anaheim needs to have that sure-thing, defensive standby.
Names like Salei, Souray, and Kaberle have been tossed into the rumor mill but these players might not fit the long term bill the Duck's will need.
A player like potential unrestricted free agent Paul Martin of the New Jersey Devils is a younger player and possibly one of the most under rated Defensemen in the league. Anaheim has had success with New Jersey free agents in the past, this just might be a match made in heaven.
Whoever is brought in to anchor Anaheim's defense will mark a new Era in Anaheim's 17-year history, the same way Niedermayer did when he joined the organization.
So here's to remembering Scott Niedermayer: a great player, a defensive genius, and an all-around amazing person.
And here's to Anaheim's future: may it be bright, exciting and full of the Scott Niedermayer tradition: Winning.
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