Transcript from Scott Niedermayer's Retirement Press Conference
Tuesday, 06.22.2010 / 7:24 PM / News
But I am also excited about the future, full of new experiences and new things to learn and time to explore my other interests. Looking back on the last 18 years, I could not have dreamed of such an amazing journey. Just watching this video brings back a lot of amazing memories. I feel very fortunate and blessed for all of them. From being drafted in 1991 by the Devils in Buffalo to playing 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 as playing for Team Canada in many international events, has been more than I ever could have asked for. It’s been more than a dream. You wouldn’t have believed that if someone told you this is what your career is going to be full of. I’ve been very lucky. None of this happens with the help and support of a lot of people. At this point after thinking about and realizing what I have accomplished, I feel it’s very important that I just thank a lot of people. It might take me a few minutes to run through everybody, but I had a lot of help and been supported by many great people and made a lot of great friends.
I would also like to recognize the late John McMullen and his family for their support and commitment to winning in New Jersey. Thank you very much. I would like to thank Lou Lamoriello, the General Manager in New Jersey, who was there when my career started in 1991. He was the General Manager that drafted me. I don’t think you will find any one more committed to his team and finding a way to win than Lou. He created the environment in New Jersey that led to winning three Stanley Cups, which I’m very proud to be a part of.
I would also like to thank Bob Murray and David McNab, as well as Brian Burke for all the work they have done to create a winning atmosphere here in Anaheim. It was a bit of a leap of faith when I came here, as there were quite a few changes going on that summer. But I have enjoyed every minute of my time here and obviously winning the Stanley Cup here in Anaheim, alongside my brother, is a moment I will cherish forever.
I would like to thank the coaching staff, Randy Carlyle, Dave Farrish, Newell Brown and Joe Trotta for their dedication, tireless work and long hours at the rink. All of that is done to make us a better team. Coaching in this league is very demanding, so I thank you for your guidance. I was also very fortunate to have some great coaches in New Jersey. I learned a lot about the game of hockey from them and they have all helped me become better players – Tom McVie, Herb Brooks, Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson, Robbie Ftorek and Pat Burns have all taught me a lot. I’d also like to mention four of my junior hockey coaches. I was fortunate to play in Kamloops, which was a great place to learn a lot about the game of hockey. Ken Hitchcock, Tom Renney, Don Hay and Ed Dempsey as well taught me a lot about the game. Again, I was very lucky to have them as my coaches in junior hockey.
I would also to thank the athletic trainers and equipment managers I have worked with over the years. This group deserves a huge thank you because they work long and hard to make sure that we are ready to play every night. The great people I have worked with here in Anaheim are Tim Clark, James Partida, Doug Shearer, Chris Kincaid, John Allaway, Sean Skahan, Mark O’Neil, Chris Aldrich and Megan Beaudoin. In New Jersey, there was Alex Abasto, Rich Matthews, Michael Vasalani, Dave Nichols, Ted Schuch, Juergen Merz, Paul Boyer, Bob Huddleston and Bob Murray. Thank you all. You made a lot easier for me to come to the rink and try to be at my best on the ice. You guys work harder than anybody, so thank you.
Another important piece of the puzzle is the fans, who make the rink a special place to be. Your support, excitement and passion for the game were inspiring and always made a difference on the ice. Thank you to all the fans here in Anaheim and in New Jersey. You will always be an important part of many great memories I’ve had.
I’d like to thank my agent, Kevin Epp and Jarrett Bousquet, who have been a great help over the last few years, as well as Don Meehan, who was my agent early in my career.
I would like to thank the media for doing the work you do covering our great game. I would like to thank our broadcasters here who make me look a lot better and talk about me a lot better than I think I am. I owe you guys.
The only way you have success in hockey is by trusting and relying on your teammates. I could not have played with a better group of players all throughout my career. It has been a great feeling knowing the guy beside you is with you 100 percent. To me, that is the most rewarding part of winning a championship, the bond between you and your teammates. When I started my career in New Jersey, I was lucky to join a distinguished group of defensemen – Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Viacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Bruce Driver and Tommy Albelin. It was an amazing group that taught me a lot and helped me the transition into the NHL.
Here in Anaheim it has been a lot of fun playing with an amazing group of guys. We had a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed watching all the young guys have an impact on the game. I want to mention my brother Rob, who is a great friend and has always been very supportive. Growing up we did everything together, so getting a chance to play together here in Anaheim and winning a Stanley Cup together was amazing.
I’m very grateful for all my parents have done as well. No hockey player gets where they are without a lot of support and effort from their parents. Their guidance has helped me realize my dream. I would definitely like to thank them as well.
Now, the hardest part. Most importantly, I owe a big thank you to my family, who have put up with a demanding schedule and been very supportive. Logan, Jackson, Josh, Luke – you have made my life richer and it was always great seeing you when I got home from the road. And to Lisa, my beautiful wife, thank you for your love and tremendous support. Having you in my life is what made it possible for me to do my job. It means a lot that you rarely missed a home game and never complained about anything you had to do while I was gone. Thank you very much.
On the process of reaching the decision to retire
I thank Bob again because he really didn’t put any pressure with a time frame or want answers right away from me. I took as much as that time as possible because I wanted to make the right decision. Everyone knows a few years ago I was debating this as well. I wanted to take the proper amount of time to weight everything. There is a lot that goes on into this type of decision. Speaking with somebody, they told me ‘You probably overthought this.’ They were probably right. I do tend to think a lot. There is a lot of things that go into it. I know I’m going to miss a lot of things about the game of hockey. The last few years have been very special in the sense that I knew I wasn’t going to continue to play forever. I had thought about retirement a few years ago. Coming to the rink, I enjoyed every second of it more than I ever had. I was glad that I continued to play. I know I’m going to miss all of that. That will never chance, whether, three years before or three years later. That will never chance. For me personally, there are a lot different things that are important to me. At this time, it just feels like the right decision to move forward. I’m excited about learning new things, new experiences I will be able to have and being around a little more at home.
On when he knew for sure he was ready to retire
I didn’t think a lot about it right after the season. I didn’t feel that was the right time. Unfortunately, we had too much time this year. So about a month ago, I probably started to think about it more and really feel where I was at. My initial reaction was I thought this would be it. I spent as much time on the decision as I could. I came to it basically a few days ago.
On the moments that stick out in his career
I get asked that question and I’m thankful I can be asked that question because I’ve been very lucky to experience many great things. I’d have to pick three moments that would be the highlights for me – winning the first Stanley Cup in New Jersey, winning the Stanley Cup here in Anaheim with my brother and just this last spring, being able to win a gold medal in Canada at the Olympics. Those are probably the three real highlights for me. It’s humbling to have the number of things to pick from. There have been many people that you need to rely on to accomplish those things. I’ve been surrounded by a lot of great people.
On comparing his time in New Jersey and in Anaheim
Starting out in New Jersey, I think it was a great place. There were a number of great players there already when I got there and great defensemen, who I was able to saddle up alongside and learn a lot from. The whole organization and the coaches I had at the time really stressed winning and knew what it took to win. It wasn’t easy at times. When I was a young player, I had different ideas of how I wanted to play and things I wanted to do on the ice, which were a little different than what the coaches there had in mind. Looking back on it now, I’m a far better player for it and learned a lot from that. It was a great time there. It wasn’t always easy because I did have those disagreements. Leaving there was a tough decision, but it worked out better than I ever could have expected coming here. The last five years have been a blast. I’ve had a lot fun with all the guys in the locker room and winning a Stanley Cup here as well. The history between the Ducks and Devils playing in the Final and my brother was one the other side and then to be able to team up and win a Stanley Cup together, it really was a fairy tale type of situation that it works out like that. It was pretty amazing. I’m glad I’ve had those experiences. That was part of the reason that I did decide to make a change, to try something new and have a new experience. I’m glad I did that because it’s been great here.
There was not really one specific thing. As time goes on, the things that I feel maybe I didn’t have the time to do or that I’m missing out on get stronger. To me, that probably is what has really changed over the last three years. More time has passed and things are changing. It just feels now that I really don’t want to wait any longer to make the next step into the new phase of my life. That is the decision I’ve made here today.
On the possibility of being pulled back into hockey
Sports and competition are what we’ve done forever. It’s what we enjoy doing and what we’re good at. I totally understand why it’s a tough decision to retire from doing something as great as playing a sport for a living. I understand why players would come back after missing it for awhile. I sort of went through a short phase of that three years ago where I was away from the game for a couple months and decided to come back. Who knows what the future will hold? Today, I’m 100 percent committed to retiring and not playing professional hockey again. I’m sure one day I’ll lace them up somewhere in an old timers league and hopefully help a team there. Right now, I’m 100 percent committed to this decision.
On what his feeling will be when the season starts
It won’t be easy. There are great friends who will be on the ice competing. I’m going to be pulling for them as hard as I ever have. It will be difficult. I’m at ease with this decision right now. It will be hard once things start up in October and November. I know that. I’ve been very fortunate to have played a lot of hockey and had a lot of great experiences. I just try not to be too greedy and enjoy the other things that I’ve mentioned.
On what he’ll what to do in the future
I haven’t thought a lot about that. Bob and I have talked very briefly about the opportunities that will be here. It’s exciting for me to try something like that and to learn a lot. You think you have all the answers when you’re a player and looking at the coaches and managers. Once you’re in their shoes, it’s a whole different world obviously. I’m excited about getting an opportunity to learn a lot about that side of the game. I’ll take full advantage of that. Where that ends up or what that looks like right now? I can’t really say because we haven’t spent a lot of time discussing it.
On possibly getting into analyst work
It was neat experiencing (with ESPN) and something new. We were here and they weren’t going anywhere. They have the show they do up in L.A. An opportunity came through the PR staff here to do that a couple of times. It was fun and really nothing more than a new experience to try out. Again, you never know what will happen in the future. I enjoyed it, but beyond that there are really no plans for a future in it at this point.
It seems like yesterday, about six years ago at this time, Henry and Susan Samueli bought the Anaheim Ducks. They brought Brian and I aboard to run this team. Their goal was simple, make us competitive and give us a chance to win. Now, what do you do? They had been to the Stanley Cup Final a few years before, J.S. Giguere got them there. We had a goaltender, but we needed a leader. We had a little ace in the hole because we had Robby Niedermayer. The first thing Brian did was he went and talked to Robby. Robby was worried about toughness on the team. So, we quickly went out and got a couple of tough guys and kept calling Robby to make sure we could sign Robby. The purpose behind it all of course was Scott Niedermayer was an unrestricted free agent. We ended up signing Scott. Let me talk about far exceeding expectations of what we were trying to do here. It’s just unbelievable what you have done. Thank you very much for that.
There are a couple of things. You have seen all his accomplishments and everything he has done. Winners are a rare breed. But it’s just not his scoring goals and those things, I take you back to 2007 playoffs, the first round. We’re playing Minnesota in Game 3. Scotty probably doesn’t even remember this. We’re having a bit of a tough time in there in Minnesota. They are running us around a little bit. Big Derek Boogaard is running around a bit. Brian and I are watching and Scotty takes a couple of runs at Derek Boogaard. I’m just looking at him, watching and thinking, ‘You know what, this is what winner’s do’. He felt he had to take the team on his back and he did. We ended up winning that series and the rest if history. It’s not just scoring goals, it’s what it takes to be a winner. That is what Scotty did.
Then there is the locker room. This man has no ego. He treats everybody, the trainer, the fans and everybody who walks into the rink with dignity and respect. For young players to come along and have to watch this and see this every day, it’s outstanding. Let’s hope that our young bucks take this one step further and live up to you and what you have done. Just in case they forget, Scotty has agreed to stay on as a consultant to the organization and myself. I couldn’t be happier because you can never have enough winners around and we have the best here. Scotty, from the Samuelis and myself, thank you very much.