It's official. TSN reports that Scott Niedermayer will return to Anaheim for the 09-10 season at a salary of $6-million plus bonuses. The Ducks captain later appeared on TSN2 to talk about his decision, saying that playing for Canada was only part of his thought process, and that he'd really like to compete in the NHL this year.
That's a statement that rings in my ear as a bit of a sports platitude. So, let's put it up for discussion. Daniel, do you think Niedermayer returned for a one-year contract to play for his 5th Stanley Cup or his 2nd Gold Medal?
I don't care.
Objection, your honor. Non-responsive. Continue.
If Niedermayer is Niedermayer, he's still one of the Top 5 defenseman in the league. We traded Pronger for secondary scoring, although no one knows how Lupul will pan out, which means we need a number 1 guy on the blue line. We still need someone to round out the top 4, but right now we might have the flexibility to bring back a Beauchemin and he can be just as tough or as mean as Pronger.
I know this doesn't solve all our problems, but when Niedermayer was gone to start the 2007 season, we struggled, even though we had Pronger. It's a lot like Josh in Season 2 of The West Wing, when we hear Niedermayer, we respond "si se puede." If any of our readers don't get that, watch The West Wing. The show's brilliant. I digress. The point is that Niedermayer is a winner, and he makes everyone else around him believe they can win. So, whether he's here for the Olympics or the Stanley Cup, all I know is now that he's here, our chances of a deep playoff run just increased exponentially.
I want to mark this as the moment that you gave me the green light to dismiss your questions in the future. I also want to say that this question is born of your rather laughable Cap projection, which had Niedermayer, who's contemplated retirement for three consecutive offseasons now, signing a multi-year deal. But now, I digress.
I'm not saying Niedermayer won't compete for us after the Olympic break. He's a competitive guy. But I can't imagine his drive to return is more about the Cup than the Olympic medal. And none of us can predict how much attaining his primary goal will affect his play, good or bad.
Let me be clear that I'm not diminishing the Stanley Cup, here. Five Cups is good. It puts him ahead of the other six active players last year with four. It puts him ahead of guys from the Oilers and Islanders dynasties. And Nieds would be doing it over a 15-year period with different teams and different-looking teams. In his era, five would set him apart.
But here's the thing. Even if you're only counting players who never played for Montreal, Red Kelly has 8 Stanley Cup wins. But how many players who never played for the Soviet Union have multiple Gold Medals? Since the last time the Soviet Union won (1988), the answer is THREE: Peter Forsberg, Jorgen Jonsson and Kenny Jonsson.
Four Stanley Cups and two gold medals will be tough to beat, in any era. If Niedermayer is looking at the end of his career, and thinking about cementing his legacy, I think the 2nd Gold Medal is calling to him louder than the Cup.
Of course, FIVE Stanley Cups and two gold medals wouldn't be too shabby either...