Scott Niedermayer doesn’t have Martin Brodeur’s all-time records. He didn’t provide a highlight reel’s worth of bone-crushing hits like Scott Stevens. Instead, the silky-smooth defenseman made a mark on the NHL because of his speed, defensive acumen and all-around ability. He also happened to be a classy guy. For those reasons and more, the New Jersey Devils hoisted his No. 27 to the rafters tonight. Watch the banner-raising ceremony in the video below.
This story includes highlights from Niedermayer’s speech, including this quote.
“It was an honor and a privilege to be a New Jersey Devil,” Niedermayer said. “These memories, I will cherish the rest of my life.”
Colorado Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog grew up watching Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy and other greats dominate in burgundy and blue. If there was any doubt that the torch has been passed to the new generation of Avs, that should be put to rest as Forsberg’s number 21 raises to the rafters tonight.
Fittingly enough, the future Hall of Famer’s ceremony will serve as a prelude to a season-opening game against their greatest rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. While the Avalanche have floundered since losing legends, the Red Wings managed to stay relevant with savvy, proactive decisions.
Many people snickered when it became clear that Forsberg would give it one more go last season. The Avalanche didn’t exactly improve his odds by throwing him right back into the fire with back-to-back games and the results were depressingly predictable.
Forsberg retired after those two games while Adam Foote mercifully brought his career to an end this off-season as well. Now the only remnants of that outstanding era can be found in the Avalanche front office, with Sakic ranking as one of the many suits.
It’s up to Duchene, Landeskog, Semyon Varlamov, Erik Johnson and other mostly young players to make impressions of their own. The current Colorado crew is a big wild card, but at least they can turn the page for good on Oct. 8.
Update: Here is video footage of the jersey retirement ceremony. For more emotional Avalanche material, check out the team’s tribute to fallen players and current players wearing Forsberg’s number 21 before the game.
It only seems fitting: the Colorado Avalanche will retire Peter Forsberg’s No. 21 jersey against their greatest foe, the Detroit Red Wings. The jersey retirement ceremony will be a part of the team’s opening night ceremony on Saturday, October 8.
Forsberg will become the fourth Avalanche player to get his number retired alongside Ray Bourque (No. 77), Patrick Roy (33) and Joe Sakic (19). He’ll be the eighth player in franchise history to receive that honor if you factor in the Quebec Nordiques’ days.*
You don’t need to be a hockey historian to know that the Avalanche-Red Wings rivalry dominated the mid-to-late ’90s in the NHL. Forsberg was a huge force alongside Sakic as the rivalry provided equal parts beauty (Forsberg, Sakic and Roy vs. Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov) and equal parts destruction (Claude Lemieux’s existence, Roy vs. Chris Osgood and more).
Again, it almost seems too perfect that “Foppa” will see his jersey ascend to the rafters against his greatest NHL opponent. PHT will likely carry you through that emotional moment as well as other opening night ceremonies throughout the league.
* Peter Stastny (26), Michel Goulet (16), Marc Tardif (8) and J.C. Tremblay (3) received those honors from the Nordiques.