The star Anaheim Ducks defenceman was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as NHL playoff MVP on Wednesday night, a first-time honour that accompanied his fourth Stanley Cup championship.
He collected an assist in the 6-2 victory that clinched Anaheim’s first Cup win.
“I was a little surprised,” said Niedermayer. “We had a handful of candidates I think. I was out there trying to do my thing. … To be recognized like that, I’m thankful.”
Win baby win, that’s all Niedermayer has ever known, Aside from his three previous Cup rings in New Jersey, the 33-year-old native of Cranbrook, B.C., had done it all: world junior gold, Memorial Cup title, men’s world championship gold, Olympic gold and World Cup of Hockey title – the only player in hockey history to have won all six titles.
“He’s an amazing athlete and an amazing individual,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
Niedermayer also won the Norris Trophy as top NHL defenceman in 2004, capping a 12-year stay with the Devils. Breaking Lou Lamoriello’s heart, Niedermayer turned down more money from the Devils GM – US$7.8 million per season – and instead opted to sign with Anaheim in August 2005 after the NHL lockout, agreeing to a $27-million, four-year deal with the Ducks.
He wanted to play with his brother Rob Niedermayer. Ducks GM Brian Burke aggressively pursued Scott and he had the ultimate card that no other GM in the league had in their deck.
“I met with Scott and I said, ‘What’s your list?’ And he said, ‘I want to play in the West, I want to play on a team that has a chance to win, I want some privacy away from the rink, and I want to play with my brother,”‘ Burke recalled. “There’s only one GM that can check off everything on your list. You’re sitting with him. Let’s get this done. So we did.”
The signing instantly transformed the Ducks into a playoff team and they reached the Western Conference final in Niedermayer’s first season last year before bowing out to Edmonton. A year later and Burke got an amazing return on the $6.75-million salary he’s paying out to Niedermayer.
“He’s our leader, he’s the lead dog here,” said Burke. “You run out of adjectives when you talk about Scotty.”
Niedermayer had 11 points (3-8) in 21 playoff games this spring, averaging just under 30 minutes per game while quarterbacking the power play and killing penalties. His smooth, effortless skating style and soft hands keyed Anaheim’s transition game.
“He’s got two game-winning overtime goals and a third goal that forced overtime in these payoffs,” said Burke. “And he’s been terrific all over the ice. What else can you say?”
Four years ago the brothers Niedermayer were shaking hands after a gruelling seven-game final series that went New Jersey’s way. It was tough playing against each other, and even tougher for Scott to see how crushed his brother was after that seventh game in June 2003.
“I was happy that our team had won but then you get in the lineup to do the handshakes and your brother’s on the other side,” Scott Niedermayer said before the Cup final. “You want to see the best for him as well. So it was a different situation.”
On Wednesday night, the Niedermayers became the first set of brothers to win a Cup together since Brent and Duane Sutter turned the trick with the 1983 New York Islanders.