Stevens on Niedermayer: 'An outstanding player'
Former Devils defenseman Scott Stevens won three Stanley Cups alongside Scott Niedermayer, who on Tuesday was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2013. Stevens, who was inducted into the Hall in 2007, spoke about Niedermayer entering hockey's shrine.
|Stevens with Niedermayer at Niedermayer's number retirement in 2011.|
Stevens: It was just a matter of when he was eligible. From the day he retired, there was no question in anyone's mind in hockey that he would be a first ballot and be in the Hockey Hall of Fame as soon as he reached that magic day – and that's come. It's very exciting. He was an outstanding player, he won at every level and it was fun to be his teammate.
When could you tell he was a special player?
I guess right away when you saw him. In camp, he was very young, but you could see the talent, you could see how great a skater he was. You pretty much knew from Day One when he arrived at camp that he was going to be a special player and had some special gifts and talents that a lot of players just would never have, obviously his skating being the most noticeable. He's probably one of the best skaters I've ever seen play the game.
Is there a moment in his career that stands out for you? Many would say the end-to-end goal in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final.
He scored a lot of big goals. One thing I remember, when they started the 4-on-4 in overtime, it was really exciting to watch him out there. A lot of times I didn't play much in that, but I had the opportunity to watch him. It was almost a given that he was either going to score a goal or create a goal with all that space and room out there 4-on-4. He took a lot of those games, when that time came, and got the W for the team. Just with his talent, you give him a little more room out there with his skating and he was very hard to contain. That's what I remember: because of the open ice, he usually got the job done, whether it was him scoring or him setting up a goal for the win.
As a Hall of Famer yourself, what's it like hearing your name called for the Hall of Fame?
You know what, I don't think you play the game to get to the Hall of Fame, you play to win Stanley Cups and championships. But when you start getting closer to the end of your career, I think you start thinking about it because you know you're not going to be [playing] much longer and you start thinking about that, 'Jeez, that would be nice to top things off to someday be a part of the Hockey Hall of Fame.' What better place to be recognized? I'm sure he's been thinking about that quite a bit. I'm sure he's very excited and I'm sure his family's excited. He's going to have a great time in Toronto [at the induction ceremony in November].
I think so, yes. He won coach of the year [three] times, he won a Cup [with the Devils in 2003]. I would have to think yes. His record was outstanding and that Cup that was ever so elusive for him and that he wanted so dearly finally happened as Devils coach. I think that's going to put him into the Hall of Fame.