Niedermayer wins first career Conn Smythe
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer skated off with a hefty silver trophy of his own after Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. Then he and the rest of the Ducks took turns hoisting hockey's biggest prize.
Now a member of four Stanley Cup champion teams, Niedermayer earned his first Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the NHL playoffs with teammate and younger brother Rob looking on.
"I was a little surprised. We had a handful of candidates," Scott said. "I was out there trying to do my thing, whether it was playing good solid defense, blocking a shot, helping out on offense. I'm thankful I was out there to help the team and not really thinking about an award like this."
As captain, Scott Niedermayer got first crack at picking up the Stanley Cup, the huge silver chalice that signifies the NHL championship. He lifted it overhead as 17,372 fans shouted their approval after the Ducks defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-2 on Wednesday night to close out the best-of-seven series in five games.
His teammates applauded the 33-year-old defenseman as he skated a half-lap around the ice before handing off the Cup to Rob while Tina Turner's " Simply the Best" blared and orange-and-silver confetti littered the air.
"You don't really dream of passing it to your brother. I never have," Scott said. "To be able to do that is definitely a highlight of my career."
The Niedermayers are the first brothers to win the Cup together since Brent and Duane Sutter won with the New York Islanders in 1983.
Explaining that "I'm new at this too," Scott said he didn't plan to hand it to his little brother.
"He's one of the assistant captains, maybe not quite the seniority, but I figured I'd use my rank as captain to make that decision," Scott said. "I thought it would be pretty special to be able to do that."
Bowing to superstition, Rob had deliberately never touched the Cup each of the three times it had been in Scott's possession for 24 hours, an honor that goes to each member of the championship team.
"He's won so much, but he's never been a guy who's ever rubbed it in a guy's face," Rob said. "He's been rooting for me my whole career, and I'm just lucky to have him as a brother."
Scott didn't score Wednesday night, but he assisted on Travis Moen's goal that made it 5-2 four minutes into the third period. Moen redirected Niedermayer's slap shot that caught Ottawa goalie Ray Emery out of the crease.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Scott's career accomplishments rank him "right at the top."
"He's so unassuming and you just feel fortunate that you're able to coach players like that," he said. "We've talked about no-maintenance people, and he's at the top of that list."
Niedermayer signed with Anaheim nearly two years ago to play with Rob, making their mother, Carol, very happy. She was torn having to root for both sides during the 2003 Cup finals when Scott's New Jersey Devils beat Rob's Ducks in seven games.
That made the Niedermayers the first brothers to compete on opposing teams in the finals.
"When he passed me the Cup like that, it was unbelievable," Rob said. "I don't think I'll ever have a better feeling than that in my career. When he came here, I know he turned down a lot from New Jersey and he had a lot of fond memories there."
Scott was the only member of the Ducks who had already won the Cup, doing so with the Devils in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
"I've done more than I ever thought," he said. "I've been very fortunate to play with a lot of really good players, good teammates, good friends. That's how you have success in the playoffs, by trusting each other and wanting to play hard for each other."
The Ducks partied in a dressing room jammed with their family members, popping champagne bottles and chugging the contents. Before joining them, Scott thought back to the first time he won the Cup.
"I remember just how excited you are," he said. "You're not even registering what's going on."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press