A legend’s number is up — in the ISC rafters
“That’s a play that I do remember quite well. It’s almost in slow motion.
“I remember it being a hard-fought game and the intensity is cranked way up and it’s tied late in the game.
“I was almost caught a little out of position. I was able to come back and the puck turned over to me.
“I didn’t know this at the time, but I think Eddy Patterson was having some issues, so he went to change and Zac Boyer jumped on the ice.
“I looked up, saw a bit of time left on the clock and popped the puck up to Zac and he did the rest.
“It was a pretty memorable way to win a championship.”
That is Scott Niedermayer’s recollection of the goal, and the pass he made to set it up, that pushed the Kamloops Blazers to victory in the 1992 Memorial Cup championship game in Seattle.
Blazer fans will have a chance to salute Niedermayer when the club retires his No. 28 at Interior Savings Centre on Friday, Jan. 25.
The ceremony will be held at about 7 p.m., before Kamloops and Prince Albert get underway.
“It’s a tremendous honour,” Niedermayer told KTW.
“I’ve been retired now for about two-and-a-half years and you really get a chance to think about your career and reminisce.”
Among the memories from his junior career with the Blue and Orange: Moving to Kamloops from Cranbrook when he was 15; meeting his billets, Roger and Sheila Paulson, and his first roommate, teammate Trevor Buchanan; being drafted by New Jersey in 1991; learning to win with coaches like Tom Renney, Ken Hitchcock and Don Hay; reaching the Memorial Cup as a 16-year-old in 1990; and two years later, the greatest memory of them all, winning Canadian junior hockey’s Holy Grail at 18.
“I benefitted tremendously from my time in Kamloops. For them to recognize what I did there is pretty special, for sure,” Niedermayer said.
For most, a Memorial Cup championship ends up being atop the career-highlight list.
Not for Niedermayer.
His list of accomplishments includes, and is not nearly exclusive to, two Olympic gold medals with Canada, one gold medal at the IIHF World Hockey Championship, hoisting once the World Cup of Hockey, a gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship, a Memorial Cup and two WHL championships.
Oh, and four Stanley Cups.
“The bottom line for my career is I’ve been working beside, playing with and playing for some really, really good people who knew what it took to have success,” Niedermayer said.
Some of those people will be at ISC on Friday.
Brian Burke, general manager with the Anaheim Ducks when captain Niedermayer led them to the Cup in 2007, will attend the ceremony.
Bob Brown, the GM who pieced together Blazer teams that reached the Memorial Cup five times in the 1980s and 1990s, will be in the building.
Rounding out the list of dignitaries slated to be on hand are Blazers’ part-owner and three-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Recchi, Kamloops majority owner Tom Gaglardi, WHL commissioner Ron Robison and former Blazers Greg Hawgood and Greg Evtushevski.
Niedermayer was surprised to hear the names of those who will honour his accomplishments.
“I didn’t really know that they were coming,” Niedermayer told KTW.
“I don’t know if that was maybe supposed to be a secret but, of course, that means a lot.”
(It was not meant to be kept under wraps. The news had been released on the Blazers’ website).
The smooth-skating defenceman racked up 47 goals and 190 points in 156 games with the Blazers.
He went on to amass 784 points in 1,263 games in the NHL.
And those are just the regular-season numbers.
The Cranbrook product tallied 39 points in 34 post-season games with the Blazers and 98 points in 202 NHL playoff appearances.
Niedermayer’s No. 28 will hang beside Hawgood’s No. 4, Recchi’s No. 8, Evtushevski’s No. 26, Dean Evason’s No. 20 and Rob Brown’s No. 44.
The future Hall of Famer will be joined this weekend in Kamloops by mom Carol, brother Rob, wife Lisa and his four children — Logan, Jackson, Joshua and Luke.
“I’ve been so fortunate throughout my career — where I played, the organizations I played for, the teammates I had and the coaches,” Niedermayer said.
“The first big step was Kamloops.”