Wednesday, June 23, 2010

NHL Great Says Thanks ...

During a press conference to announce his retirement from professional hockey, Scott Niedermayer took a moment to reflect on those that were influential in his hockey career. Included in that well thought out and inclusive list was current Spruce Kings head coach and general manager, Ed Dempsey. Along with Ken Hitchcock, Tom Renney and Don Hay, Dempsey coached Niedermayer when he played for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League.

Scott Niedermayer played three seasons with the Kamloops Blazers with Ed Dempsey on the bench as part of the coaching staff. During those three years Niedermayer was selected twice to the WHL All Star team, was named the CHL Scholastic Player of the Year and was selected third overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils. He also received the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the MVP of the 1992 Memorial Cup tournament.

The list of accomplishments for Scott Niedermayer is long with Niedermayer being the only player to win every major North American and International championship during his career. The Memorial Cup with the Blazers came one year after winning gold at the World Juniors with Team Canada in 1991. In 2004, he won gold in both the World Cup of Hockey and the IIHF World Championship. Niedermayer has also won two Olympic gold medals and has four Stanley Cups to his name, three with the New Jersey Devils and one with the Anaheim Ducks.

For a player with a resume as impressive as Scott Niedermayer's to take a moment to remember a coach from his junior days is nothing short of humbling and a true honour. In a carefully prepared and thoughtfully scripted retirement announcement, Niedermayer went through the coaching staff of the Anahiem Ducks and New Jersey Devils before recognizing his influences that led him to professional hockey.

"Looking back on the last eighteen years I can not have dreamed of such an amazing journey," said Niedermayer as he began his announcement by reflecting over pivotal points in his career. "From being drafted in 1991 by the Devils in Buffalo to playing in my first NHL game in Madison Square Garden. Getting five opportunities to compete for a Stanley Cup in the Finals, winning four of those. As well playing for Team Canada in many international events, has been more than I ever could have asked for."

"None of this happens without the help and support of a lot of people," continued Niedermayer. "I feel it's very important that I just thank a lot of people. I've had a lot of help and been supported by many great people and made a lot of great friends."

"I'd also like to mention four of my junior hockey coaches," said Niedermayer after he went through the list of coaches from the Anahiem Ducks and New Jersey Devils. "Ken Hitchcock, Tom Renney, Don Hay and Ed Dempsey as well taught me a lot about the game and again I was very lucky to have them as my coaches in junior hockey."

Scott Niedermayer was drafted in the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft and, after playing one more year in the junior ranks, joined the New Jersey Devils in the fall of 1992. In his first season in the NHL, Niedermayer was named to the NHL All Rookie team and then two years later would hoist the Stanley Cup for the first of four times.

Always characterized by his skating stride and ability to read the play and contribute offensively, Niedermayer lived up to his billing from his junior years and went on to have a very rich and rewarding professional career. Congratulations, good luck and of course a big thank you to the man affectionately known as Captain Canada – Scott Niedermayer.

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