Scott Niedermayer will be joining another hall of fame this May at the 2015 World Hockey Championships in Prague it was announced on December 18 according to NHL.com. The former Devils’ star defenseman, who is already a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, will join the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2015. He is the only Canadian player to win every major North American and international championship.
Niedermayer, a native of Edmonton, Alberta who grew up in Cranbrook, British Columbia, is a member of the “Triple Gold Club”: having won an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City games and the 2010 Vancouver games as well as winning gold at the 1991 World Junior Championship and the 2004 World Championship. He has also won four Stanley Cups (1995, 2000 and 2003 with the Devils and 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks) in the NHL and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey with Canada. His other accomplishments include winning the 1992 Memorial Cup with the Kamloops Blazers (who, like the Devils, have retired his number) of the Western Hockey League and was the 1992 Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy winner as most valuable player of the Memorial Cup. He also won the 2007 Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. In 1991 he had been named the winner of the Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Trophy (as WHL scholastic player of the year) and was named the Canadian Hockey League scholastic player of the year. He was also the recipient of the 2004 Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best overall defenseman. He also served as Devils team captain in 2004 and was Ducks captain for most of his time there, including when the team won their first and, to date, only Stanley Cup title.
Now Niedermayer can add IIHF Hall of Famer to his resume. Because of his accomplishments on the international stage, Niedermayer will join former Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings goalie and six-time Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek, longtime Calgary Flame Robert Reichel, Swedish women’s Olympian Maria Rooth, Italian star Lucio Topatigh (who will receive the Richard “Bibi” Torriani trophy), and Luxembourg’s Monique Scheier-Schneider (who will be awarded the Paul Loicq Award). Joining them will be women’s international hockey architect Fran Rider in the Builder’s category.
Part of Niedermayer’s reason for induction was that he was a champion at every level, especially on the international stage. In the Olympics alone, playing 13 games over two tournaments in 2002 and 2010, he had 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points he was also a plus-7 with 8 penalty minutes. But more importantly than stats, Niedermayer brought other intangibles to a team like leadership (he was captain of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team in Vancouver). As noted, he has won championships at every level from Juniors to the NHL to every type of international competition and those championships have made him one of the most decorated players ever to play the game.
Scott Niedermayer’s New Jersey Devils career began at the beginning of the 1991-92 season after being selected 3rd overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft (a pick the Devils acquired by sending 1988 playoff team member Tom Kurvers to the Toronto Maple Leafs). He debuted on October 16, 1991 against the Rangers. Known as a phenomenal skater whose mom, Carol, signed him up for figure skating classes and taught power skating to him and his brother Rob (who is also a former Devil and who he won a Stanley Cup with in Anaheim as well as faced in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals when Rob was a member of the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim), he scored his first NHL goal on November 8, 1992 in a 6-1 rout of the San Jose Sharks. This season, 1992-93, was his first full NHL season and he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team at the end of the season. His skating prowess was on full display in game two of the 1995 Stanley Cup Final when he scored against the Red Wings on an end-to-end rush, a goal that has been replayed in Stanley Cup playoff video packages ever since.
In 1997-98, he had his best year in New Jersey scoring 14 goals and racking up 43 assists for 57 points. He played in his first All-Star Game that year in Vancouver, where he scored a goal in the first period of an 8-7 North American All-Star win over the World All-Stars. That year he was also named to the NHL’s postseason Second All-Star Team. He also represented the Devils in the 2001 All-Star Game in Denver and the 2004 game in St. Paul, Minnesota (where he had the primary assist on Mark Messier’s final All-Star goal at 13:48 of the second period). That 2004 game was special for both Niedermayer personally and the Devils as a franchise: in addition to assisting on Messier’s goal, Niedermayer also won the Fastest Skater event at the annual skills competition with a time of 13.783 second. He also served as the East’s captain. For the Devils, the team lent players to the entire backend of the Eastern Conference’s starting lineup, as Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski were the two starting defensemen and Martin Brodeur got the nod in goal. Future Devil Ilya Kovalchuk, then of the Atlanta Thrashers, started at left wing, as well. Niedermayer’s Eastern Conference defeated the Western Conference, 6-4.
Although he would leave for the west coast in 2004 and add another Cup to his list of accomplishments, making the Ducks the first California-based NHL team to claim Lord Stanley’s Cup, his impact and legacy was still being felt in New Jersey. After his retirement at age 37, the Devils brought him back to honor him with a jersey retirement ceremony in 2011, making him the third Devil to be so honored.
Although all of these accomplishments are something to be proud of for certain for Niedermayer, it is the championship pedigree that he will forever be known for. A born leader and someone who could win with any team at any level, Scott Niedermayer is more than an NHL legend, he is also a legend of international hockey and is well deserving of his place within the IIHF’s hall of fame.