ANAHEIM -- Brothers are supposed to share everything.
|Anaheim Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer and his brother Rob hold up the Stanley Cup after the Ducks beat the Senators 6-2 in Game 5.
But for the hockey-playing Neidermayer brothers – Rob and Scott – there was one life-defining experience – winning the Stanley Cup -- that was mutually exclusive.
That is, until the two brothers combined this season to lead the Anaheim Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup championship, winning the title Wednesday night with a 6-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 at the Honda Center.
For older brother Scott, it is his fourth Stanley Cup triumph – he won three as a member of the New Jersey Devils. For Rob, it is his first NHL title. To make matters worse, Scott’s Devils beat Rob’s Ducks in the seventh game of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, denying Rob the opportunity to join his brother as Stanley Cup champion.
Needless to say, when the Stanley Cup made a visit to the Niedermayer home in Cranbrook, British Columbia during the summer of 2003, there were a few uncomfortable moments for the Niedermayer clan. It was not a triumph that could be shared by the brothers, who share a bond made stronger by the fact that they were born just 16 months apart.
“It was a tough situation, to say the least,” Scott Niedermayer admitted.
But that uncomfortable situation is all forgotten now. It faded from memory just seconds after Scott, the Ducks’ captain, took the much-coveted trophy from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and momentarily lifted it above his head in the customary fashion before handing it off to brother Rob, an alternate captain with the team.
Rob Niedermayer immediately raise the Cup skyward and then started the victory lap, his teammates trailing after him, awaiting their turn to indulge in the Cup’s magic.
“It’s the best feeling I have ever had in my career,” Rob Niedermayer said, standing arm-in-arm with Scott a good half hour after the final buzzer Wednesday night. “It’s probably the best feeling I will ever have in my career.”
Scott Niedermayer did not have to hand the Cup off to Rob. Chris Pronger, another alternate captain, was a viable option, as was veteran Teemu Selanne, who played 15 years before finally winning the Cup. Even goalie J.S. Giguere would have been acceptable as he played a dominant role in delivering the hardware to the Ducks this season.
But, in Scott’s heart, there was simply no other option aside from Rob, his brother and best friend. With one simple gesture, Scott hoped to erase some of the pain that Rob had felt each time Scott celebrated with the Stanley Cup. He longed to finally share the most special moment in any hockey player’s career with one of the most special people in his life.
“It was pretty simple,” said Scott Niedermayer. “Obviously, the assistant captains with Prongs and my brother, that’s usually where it goes. I don’t know who has played more games and who it should have gone to, but I don’t think anybody is going to hold it against me.”
No, nobody held it against Scott. In fact, many of his teammates say that the handoff from Scott to Rob will be among their most dominant memories of their Cup-clinching night.
“He grabbed it and he gave it to his brother, but that is what brothers do; they help each other out,” said Corey Perry, a Anaheim forward.
That moment -- when the Cup passed from one brother to the next before their teammates and a delirious home crowd -- was the dominant thought consuming all of Scott’s waking hours from the time Anaheim won Game 4 on Monday night.
“You try not to think about things like that,” Scott Niedermayer said. “You are in a situation, you’re trying to go to sleep last night, you’re trying to have a nap today and you try not to think about would could happen if you win because you have 60 minutes that are not going to be easy. But, it’s almost impossible.
|The Niedermayers have always wanted to hoist the Stanley Cup together. |
“People asked me before the series if that is what I was going to (pass the Cup to my brother) and I tried not to answer it, but it seemed like the perfect thing to do and it will be the highlight of my career, no doubt.”
That is saying something, considering that Scott Niedermayer has won virtually every honor hockey has to offer at every level, including the Conn Smythe as this year’s Stanley Cup Playoff MVP.
But to see Rob’s smile Wednesday night was the perfect illustration of why the moment meant so much to Scott. He knows the power of the Cup and he wanted desperately for Rob to feel its pull surge through his being.
“I couldn’t have wrote up anything better than this,” Rob Niedermayer said. “For Scott to play so well and to lead our team to this; for him to pass me the Cup is pretty special.
“I never thought this was going to come in my career. That’s why I think the emotions came so freely. I’m just relieved that I can finally say that I am a Stanley Cup champion. This is unbelievable. I can’t put it into words.”
Wednesday night, words weren’t necessary for the two brothers. The look of love for, and gratitude to, each other spoke volumes.
And, now the Niedermayer clan can start planning for what will be the best of the four Stanley Cup celebrations the family has been lucky enough to host.
“To be able to have a good time with him, totally enjoy it and just relax, it will be nice,” said Scott Niedermayer. “Now there are going to be no worries, nothing to worry about but having a good time.”
So, Scott, do you have any clue what the two brothers will do during their time with the Cup?
“It’ll be my brother’s choice,” he said. “Whatever he wants to do with it, I’m fine with.”
Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Managing Editor