Niedermayer Talks About His New Role as Ducks Assistant
|"I realized I do enjoy coaching, more than maybe I thought when I was a player. I'm excited about the chance to try and help."|
On the timing of him taking over this role,
I don't think there was any one moment. Working with players at Norfolk and Syracuse, I realized I do enjoy it, more than maybe I thought when I was a player. I probably couldn’t have predicted that when I was a player. I enjoyed the opportunity, and I talked with Bob about his ideas as to what would help the organization. He thought this was something that would be worthwhile, and I'm excited about the chance to try and help.
On what his function will be,
It's going to remain quite flexible. Initially I conveyed to them that I didn't see myself going on the road with the team. They said the door is always open to come on the road if I feel the timing is right or I’m able to do it. Initially, the expectations are to get on the ice as much at home here when the team is practicing and to come to the games, watching somewhere from up in the rink, like I have the last couple of years. They're might be situations where I might not be able to make home practices, like if I'm out of town for my kids' hockey tournaments, but I expect to be at most of them.
We have two assistant coaches and Bruce as the head coach. Those guys will be doing all the heavy lifting. I’ll come in and when they ask me to do certain things, I’ll be glad to help out. Other than that, it’s just being on the ice and being supportive, trying to find answers for guys and give advice about things I see during games.
On working mostly with younger players,
We have some veteran defensemen who I maybe won’t be quite as involved with, but we also have some guys who haven’t been in the league quite as long. Defense is a position where, at least I found, I was learning things all the way through my career, up until my last game. It’s a tough position to play, mentally, as far as being able to handle situations, but also as far as different subtle things like where to position yourself and where to position your stick. Little things like that can make a big difference. I imagine I'll help out a little more with the defensemen, but I’m sure I can help with the young forwards as well.
On whether he thought of being a coach during his playing career,
I never really did. I guess I was sort of focused on my job as a player and trying to do my part. The last couple years, to have the opportunity to work with the Ducks and be on the ice with the guys in the minors, I enjoyed it. To think about the coaches I had during my career, without a lot of those guys, I wouldn’t have been the player I was able to become. I learned a lot from them. Sometimes it wasn’t easy and sometimes it’s not what you want to hear, but looking back, I benefited a lot from them.
On reuniting with some of his old Ducks teammates,
I still have some friends there that I played with. No matter what you do, it’s still fun hanging around your friends and that type of thing. I’ve enjoyed doing some other things, and I’ll enjoy being around them again. My goal here is to be able to help out and focus on the younger guys, give them some advice here and there, and hopefully that will make a difference.
On discussing it with his family,
We talked about it. I still expect to be around the house a lot, doing things. The one thing that concerned me a little bit was heading to the rink in the morning, coming back and picking up the kids from school, then going back to the rink later in the day. I’ll probably be around the rink more than I’ve ever been in my life for the next few months. I enjoy helping out with my kids’ hockey, but obviously to get the opportunity at the NHL level is a huge thrill, and I’m looking forward to it.
On whether he can teach Teemu Selanne anything,
I think there is a lot I can teach him. I think it's whether he's going to listen [laughs]. Guys like him have been around and know a lot about the game. Just as importantly, they understand how to prepare themselves, and hopefully I can help out the younger guys with things like that as well.
On working with Cam Fowler,
He'll be one of the guys, for sure. Luca Sbisa is another young d-man I'll work with. I imagine there will be some young guys up front as well. I think the mental game and the experience you have as a professional player, I can help out, no matter what position. Cam will definitely be one of the guys I'll be talking with more than others, but hopefully I can help most of the young guys.
Cam is obviously a great skater, and in the game today, that’s obviously a huge asset to have. He’s a smart player. You see the decisions he makes with and without the puck. Those two things are tremendously valuable and they’re difficult to teach. Those are the talents he has, and hopefully we can use those to make him an even better player.
On his retirement,
It’s been good. Of course you miss it and there will be things you’ll always miss. There are some great things that go with being a professional hockey player, and I was very fortunate to do that for a living for a good number of years. The last couple of years have been different, but I’ve had some fun opportunities to do things with the family and by myself that I couldn’t do before. It was good, but now I’m looking forward to this, to get back and help out any way I can. As a player, you want to do anything you can to help make the team more successful, and I think my attitude will pretty much be the same now.