Well before Rob Niedermayer signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres, the veteran’s presence was felt in the locker room – at least for defenseman Steve Montador.
Playing with Niedermayer for the better part of three seasons – both with the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks – Montador was stuck by his balanced demeanor both on and off the ice and tried to emulate his approach to the game.
“What he adds is something that a Mike Grier adds – and that’s just the calming effect of what it means to be a true professional,” Montador said. “But also when things are up or down, he doesn’t get too up or down. You can see it today, preparing before practice, he was working out and getting ready just as a good pro does. I think that should rub off [on younger players]. I know that I followed him.
“Actually I told him today about some of the things I do as a pro now are from things that learned from him eight or nine years ago. He’s not the most vocal type of guy, but he just goes about his business and is a great addition.”
Not only has Niedermayer been the consummate professional as a veteran of 16 NHL seasons, but he stands as the only player in the Sabres dressing room who has taken home the Stanley Cup – winning a championship with the Ducks in 2007.
“Anytime you can bring in a player who has won the Stanley Cup and has gone through that process and been a part of winning… we feel that we’re closer and that we can challenge for the East,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said. “He knows what it takes.”
“But experience can only do so much,” Niedermayer argued. “When you’ve played in different situations you can try and help in the aspect of trying to prepare the guys, but until you get there and do it, it’s pretty tough to explain everything. You can help them in other ways though.
“I think the team just has to click at the right time and that was the case with [the Ducks in 2007]. We didn’t have a lot of guys who had won the Cup before, but we did it in Anaheim.”
Montador, however, believes good habits breed success.
“If you see that something is working for somebody else and maybe it’s a similar area [you will tend to try it],” he said.
Niedermayer signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on July 7 as an unrestricted free agent. He spent last season in New Jersey where he scored 22 points (10+12) in 71 games. He was also second on the team with a faceoff percentage of 50.6, winning 478 of 945 draws.
And while he typically played the role of centerman with the Devils, Niedermayer has also spent some time on the wing – and says he is comfortable in either position.
“We’ll see how everything goes in training camp and where the best fit is,” he said. “I think that they’ve had a good team for a lot of years. “They have some really good leaders here with [Craig] Rivet and [Mike] Grier and a lot of guys that have been around and done a lot of good things in this League. I’m going to try to come in and help out in that way and hopefully have a good year.
“At my age, I just want to play on a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup and I think that this team has as good a chance as any.”