NEWARK, N.J. -- Scott Niedermayer spoke with the same type of grace with which he played.
On a night in New Jersey that belonged to him and his No. 27, Niedermayer took several minutes out of his speech to thank so many people, including many from the Devils organization, both alive and deceased, to the training staff, former teammates, ex-coaches, the evening's MC, Mike Emrick -- and his family, even the one that housed him when he first came to New Jersey in 1991 as an 18-year-old.
At the same time, the Devils did all they could to thank Niedermayer, making Friday night at Prudential Center all his as they sent his No. 27 up to the rafters to join Scott Stevens' No. 4 and Ken Daneyko's No. 3 -- not to mention the Stanley Cup championship banners from 1995, 2000 and 2003 that the three of them helped to win.
Other than immortality for his number, the Devils gave Niedermayer a mountain bike, a Tiffany's crystal engraving of the banner that went up to the rafters, a framed No. 27 Devils jersey, a fully loaded 2011 Lincoln Navigator, and the opportunity to speak to the fans that chanted his name on so many occasions at the Meadowlands from 1991 through 2004.
Niedermayer in his own class
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer The top skating and puck-moving defenseman on the Devils' three Stanley Cup winners will be honored by the team prior to Friday night's game when his No. 27 becomes the third in franchise history to be retired. READ MORE ›
"When I was drafted just over 20 years ago in Buffalo, I'm pretty sure I didn't imagine the good fortune and what would happen throughout my career," Niedermayer told the sold-out crowd during his 35-minute jersey retirement ceremony. "It was an honor and privilege to be a New Jersey Devil for many years. These are memories I'll cherish for the rest of my life."
Niedermayer made his NHL debut with the Devils on Oct. 16, 1991 against the New York Rangers. In his 13 years as a Devil, including 12 full seasons, he put up 740 regular-season points, won the Stanley Cup three times, and captured the Norris Trophy in 2004.
However, it wasn't until Friday night that Niedermayer stepped into the center ice faceoff circle at Prudential Center as a New Jersey Devil. After all, his entire Devils career was played in East Rutherford, and he played his only two games in the team's new state-of-the-art home as an Anaheim Duck.
Stevens and Daneyko brought out Niedermayer's red No. 27 jersey for him to put on for the first time since April 17, 2004 -- his last game as a Devil. He wore it while giving his speech from a podium at center ice.
Niedermayer left a large chunk of his speech to thank his former teammates, starting with Martin Brodeur, Daneyko, Stevens and Sergei Brylin -- the other four Devils along with No. 27 to play on all three Stanley Cup-winning teams. Brodeur, Daneyko and Stevens were part of the ceremony, but Brylin couldn't be because he's still playing in Russia.
Brylin, though, was part of MSG Network's video tribute to Niedermayer prior to the ceremony.
"As I've had time to think about my career and look back on it, what really stands out to me is the teammates, friends that I played with throughout my career," he said. "I've been fortunate to play with a lot of great hockey players, and they really deserve a huge, huge thank you."
There were several long ovations for Niedermayer throughout the ceremony, but the longest and loudest came when Emrick introduced him. Niedermayer stood and waved to the fans as they gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name. He had to pause before beginning his speech because the chanting kept going on.
"That feels pretty good," Niedermayer opened. "It's been a while since I've been back here and to put this jersey on again, feels right.
"When I was drafted just over 20 years ago in Buffalo, I'm pretty sure I didn't imagine the good fortune and what would happen throughout my career. It was an honor and privilege to be a New Jersey Devil for many years. These are memories I'll cherish for the rest of my life" -- Scott Niedermayer
"Your passion and support of the Devils always made every win and every championship that much sweeter," he later added.
Of the late Dr. John McMullen, who was the Devils owner when Niedermayer was drafted and when the team won its first two Stanley Cup championships, Niedermayer said: "He gave us great support and allowed Lou (Lamoriello) and the organization to do what they needed to do to support us to win championships."
Of Lamoriello, who in typical fashion was neither seen nor heard during the ceremony, Niedermayer offered: "I didn't really know what I was getting into when I was coming to New Jersey, but I wouldn't trade it for anything now. Thank you for drafting me and thank you for the work and leadership he shows this organization."
Niedermayer even thanked the current Devils and Dallas Stars for their patience during the ceremony, which forced the start of Friday's game to be pushed back an hour.
"I've been in a few of these situations," he said. "It's not the easiest when you have a game coming up."
Finally, Niedermayer walked down the red carpet to the table by the goal crease nearest the Zamboni entrance. Awaiting him and his family was the banner that will now forever hang from the rafters at Prudential Center.
As it started to go up, Emrick bellowed: "Ladies and gentleman, we salute, No. 27, Scott Niedermayer."