Confirming rumblings from earlier this week, Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice reports that the New Jersey Devils will indeed retire Scott Niedermayer’s No. 27 this season. Niedermayer was part of three Stanley Cup champion teams with the Devils, he also won his only Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman with the club in 2004.
Gulitti reports that Lou Lamoriello stated that it is the club’s “intention” to hang Niedermayer’s sweater from the rafters at the Prudential Center. A date for the ceremony has not yet been determined, but December 16th is a date that has been mentioned by a couple of parties, including Niedermayer.
Electing to retire Niedermayer’s number is a great gesture from Lamoriello and the Devils towards, arguably, the best defenseman of his era, even if some fans still harbor ill feelings from his departure in 2005. Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy on Devils fans ‘pushing aside petty angst’:
In 2005, Niedermayer had a choice. He could remain a Devil via a lucrative unrestricted free-agent contract, stabilizing a franchise that was at the end of the Scott Stevens era on its blue line and entering a new trap-unfriendly era in the NHL; or, he could leave for the Anaheim Ducks’ less lucrative offer and play with this brother, Rob.
Niedermayer of course chose the latter, winning the Conn Smythe along with a Stanley Cup in 2007 and solidifying his place as a top three defenseman of his era.
GM Lou Lamorielllo waited on Niedermayer before enacting a Plan B that summer: a pair of panicky, disastrous signings in Vladimir Malakhov (who entered into a controversial retirement that year) and Dan McGillis (whose contract was banished to the AHL). With Niedermayer, the Devils reached the conference finals five times; since he left, they haven’t made it once.
But again, this is petty. The team’s clearly gotten over it, putting No. 27 back in mothballs after Mike Mottou wore it post-Niedermayer.
Jeff Miller at the O.C. Register wonders if the Anaheim Ducks will choose to retire Niedermayer’s No. 27 as well. Niedermayer won his fourth Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and he also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoffs’ MVP, too.
Niedermayer’s resume is the stuff that legends are made of. He’s the only player to win every North American and international hockey championship, including the Memorial Cup, World Junior Championship, IIHF World Championship, World Cup, Olympic gold medal, and Stanley Cup.
Now, if the Devils could just find a creative way to commemorate Perry Anderson’s unfathomable 113 PIM in ten postseason games back in 1988 then everything would be copacetic.