Rob Niedermayer arrives at camp
|Niedermayer wore No. 21.|
"It's nice to get the first day over with," said Niedermayer, who got into town Sunday night. "I'm excited and a little nervous, but it's nice to come and meet everyone and get the first practice under your belt."
Niedermayer had been practicing in British Columbia with the Kootenay ICE of the Western Hockey League, but now begins the process of getting back into NHL game shape.
Based on Jacques Lemaire's initial reaction, Niedermayer's well on his way.
"Right away, I was with (assistant coach) Mario (Tremblay) standing there, and the first time I really had a look was the 3-on-3 down low; 3-on-2 down low, and the first remark we both said was, 'He's strong,'" said the head coach. "He's strong on the puck, he protects the puck."
There's no substitute for game play, however.
"When you don't play games, you can't be in top shape," Lemaire said. "He's not bad, you could see he was getting tired on some of the drills, but it's not that bad. I've seen guys tired like that last game, and they've been with us for two weeks."
On Monday, Niedermayer centered a line with Brendan Shanahan and Niclas Bergfors. Shanahan, entering his 22nd NHL season, has 1,524 games under his belt. Bergfors, a rookie hopeful, has made just nine NHL appearances. The veteran centerman seemed right at home on a line that blended experience with skill.
"Pretty nice to skate with both of them," Niedermayer said. "Both very talented guys, and it made my job a lot easier."
Niedermayer's line wore gray. Also skating this morning, in red: Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Jamie Langenbrunner; in blue: Brian Rolston - Dainius Zubrus - David Clarkson; in light blue: Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - Rod Pelley - Andrew Peters; in green: Jay Pandolfo - Tim Sestito - Matt Halischuk/Ilkka Pikkarainen.
Selected by Florida with the fifth overall pick in 1993, Niedermayer spent his first eight seasons with the Panthers. He had his most productive season in 1995-96, scoring 26 goals and 35 assists as Florida made its run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.
Niedermayer was dealt to Calgary in a 2001 trade for Valeri Bure and Jason Wiemer before landing in Anaheim the next season. The Mighty Ducks advanced to the 2003 Finals and were beaten in seven games by New Jersey.
Older brother and former Devil, Scott, followed Rob to California after the 2005 lockout. They went on to hoist the Cup together when the Ducks defeated Ottawa in 2007.
Niedermayer sounded happy to be back in the East.
"I know the travel's a lot better," he said. "I'm really looking forward to that – definitely something that's going to be good."
Lemaire said the green line would not play in Tuesday's game at Prudential Center. Martin Brodeur will start his third straight exhibition game with Yann Danis backing up. Brodeur has allowed two goals in two appearances, including Saturday's 1-0 blanking of the Flyers.
Monday's defensemen were, in white: Paul Martin, Johnny Oduya, Mike Mottau, Colin White. In black: Jay Leach, Bryce Salvador, Cory Murphy, Andy Greene, Rob Davison. Lemaire wouldn't say which defenders would see action against the Islanders, though he confirmed that Mottau would not play.
Rob and older brother Scott will become the fourth set of brothers to play for New Jersey, joining Aaron/Neal Broten, Claude/Jocelyn Lemieux, and Patrik/Peter Sundstrom. Their 893 combined regular-season games played would rank first, followed by Broten (669), Lemieux (441) and Sundstrom (326).