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.
It’s an honor that’s been rumored for some time now, but Scott Niedermayer will officially get his due from the New Jersey Devils having his number retired.
Niedermayer’s no. 27 will be lifted to the rafters at Prudential Center in Newark on December 16 against the Dallas Stars. Niedermayer will join former defensemen Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens as those honored by having their number retired by the team and proving that the Devils of the 90s and 2000s were all about being tough along the blue line.
Fire & Ice’s Tom Gulitti has the word from Devils GM Lou Lamoriello as to what Niedermayer meant to the organization and why he’s being honored by the team.
“Scott Niedermayer’s talent and leadership played significant roles in each of our three Stanley Cup Championships,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team. “We look forward to welcoming the Niedermayer family back to New Jersey as we retire Scott’s no. 27.”
Niedermayer’s career started with the Devils as part of one of the more inauspicious deals in NHL history. While the Devils selected Niedermayer third in the NHL draft in 1991, it was a pick the Devils acquired from Toronto in exchange for Tom Kurvers in 1989. The Leafs’ blunder turned into New Jersey’s ultimate gain as Niedermayer went on to have a, likely, Hall Of Fame career in New Jersey and Anaheim while Kurvers lasted just 89 games in Toronto before being shipped off to Vancouver for Brian Bradley late in 1991.
Niedermayer went on to win four Stanley Cups in his career, three with New Jersey and one in Anaheim but his career in New Jersey is what made him a legend in NHL circles including a Norris Trophy in 2003-2004. Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe with Anaheim in 2007. It’s an honor for the former Devil that comes a bit overdue since his retirement in last June.
Some Devils fans didn’t like how Niedermayer left the organization signing as a free agent with the Ducks after the lockout ended in 2005, but anyone thinking the Devils would’ve been as successful without his play is out of their mind. Niedermayer is one of the best the team and the league has seen over the years.