Scott Niedermayer, one of the most successful players at every level ever to play the game, has retired for a second, and almost certainly last, time. The soon-to-be 37-year old member of the Anaheim Ducks made the announcement on Tuesday in California just days before the NHL Entry Draft (in Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday) and Awards Ceremony (in Las Vegas on Thursday). The 18-year veteran has 1,263 regular-season games to his credit and another 202 in the playoffs.
Niedermayer is the second Canadian member of the 24-man Triple Gold Club to retire this summer, following Rob Blake, who called it quits just a few weeks ago. He was the captain of Canada’s gold-medal team from Vancouver 2010, the last of many honours that Niedermayer accumulated during his outstanding career.
Where Niedermayer played, success followed. His style of play recalled Paul Coffey and Bobby Orr, a smooth-skating, offensive-minded player who moved the puck with seeming ease out of his own end and quarterbacked the attack inside the other team’s blue line with remarkable efficiency.
He won the Memorial Cup with Kamloops in 1991-92, a year after playing on Canada’s 1991 World U20 Championship gold-medal team. Drafted 3rd overall by New Jersey in 1991, Niedermayer joined the Devils full time a year later and never looked back, spending the first 13 years of his career with New Jersey and taking them to Stanley Cup victory three times – in 1995, 2000, and 2003. His teammates during this era included Martin Brodeur and Scott Stevens.
Nidermayer also was a key member of Canada’s Olympic gold team in 2002 in Salt Lake. In 2005, coming out of the lockout, he signed with the Ducks as a free agent. He chose Anaheim in large part because his brother Rob played there, and the two had been instrumental in taking Canada to gold at the 2004 World Championship. That victory put Scott in the Triple Gold Club, and he added another honour to his list of achievements in 2007 when he captained the Ducks to the Stanley Cup. Later in 2004, Niedermayer helped Canada win the World Cup of Hockey as well, thus becoming the only player to win six major titles – Memorial Cup, World U20 Gold, Stanley Cup, World Championship gold, Olympic gold, and World Cup of Hockey championship.
Niedermayer is the only TGC member to have won the Cup with two different teams. He retired after that Anaheim win in 2007, but halfway through the next season decided he missed the game too much and returned to the Ducks. Two years later, he captained Canada to Olympic gold again, in what will surely be remembered as the final great moment of his career. He was on the blue line when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime, and it was Niedermayer, who first hugged Crosby in victory celebration.
It is appropriate Niedermayer retired on the day the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2010 inductees, because sure as the hall exists he will be so honoured in three years time when he becomes eligible.