The Devils will be retiring Scott Niedermayer’s number tonight but it was a night that wouldn’t have happened if Lou Lamoriello had things break right for him.
Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice relays the story of how the Devils’ hopes back in 1989 centered around Eric Lindros, not Niedermayer. In ’89 the Devils traded Tom Kurvers to Toronto for the Leafs 1991 first round pick. Trading a first rounder that far off in the future was a curious move, but Lamoriello had big plans on draft day ’91.
“When we traded Tom Kurvers and took the pick two years from then it was really with the aspiration of ‘Who knows? Maybe Lindros,’” Lamoriello said this week.
Instead, the Quebec Nordiques finished with the worst record in 1991 earning them the top pick. The expansion San Jose Sharks were given the second pick and the Maple Leafs’ awful season wound up putting them third and giving New Jersey the chance to take Niedermayer.
Aside from the easy jokes about Toronto giving up franchise players in the draft, things worked out rather well for New Jersey with Niedermayer. He helped the Devils win three Stanley Cups while Lindros, as you might recall, never won a Stanley Cup in a controversial and concussion-shortened career.
It’s a shame the Devils didn’t have to dwell on the thought of having to choose between Pat Falloon (drafted second by San Jose) or Niedermayer.