A truly bizarre article on Niedermayer

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by jigglysquishy, Nov 15, 2013.

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  1. jigglysquishy

    jigglysquishy Registered User

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    Front page of NHL.com today.

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=691490&navid=nhl:topheads

    Makes the argument that Nieds wasn't "properly appreciated" and implies that he is a better d-man that Pronger and Stevens. It also makes a huge impact on Nieds' 04 Norris over Lidstrom when he "broke his run of dominance".

    Why is he being elevated to legendary status? People always point to his nationality, but why is he being pushed over superior Canadian d-men in Pronger and Stevens?

    Does any other player have a rep that is drastically different in the media than on the HoH? Rocket is the only one that comes to mind, but I can at least understand that.
     
  2. quoipourquoi

    quoipourquoi Goaltender

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    Mark Messier and Dominik Hasek.
     
  3. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    I liked Niedermayer, I really did.

    I have no idea at what point he went from "chronic disappointment" or "underachiever" to "future HOFer", but it happened overnight and I have no idea why.

    The only conclusions we can derive are:
    - Niedermayer, despite the perception in his first ten years as a disappointment considering the early hype, was underrated at that time, which has since been corrected. Or:
    - Niedermayer was rated properly during his first ten years, in which case the idea that a guy who had a fairly short prime that didn't begin until he was 29 (extremely late for a defenseman) as some type of legend is in itself absurd.
     
  4. The Mighty Duck Man

    The Mighty Duck Man R-E-L-A-X

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    Reading that tidbit, I really don't think they were implying he was better, just making the (correct)point that he didn't dish out highlight reel hits, and that defensively he was underrated. I agree, when most talk about Niedermayer, it's first and foremost about his skating, and then about his offense(which didn't really pick up steam until the end of his career). IMO he never really gets enough credit for his defense, which was very much elite, and it makes some look largely at his numbers and determine he was only an elite defenseman for a small period of time.

    Lemaire was a huge part in him developing that defense, and you never want to go into "what-if" scenarios, but a guy really wonders what he would've done if he played in this era. Not just for the style, but also considering he could've hit free agency a lot earlier, and perhaps shown his stuff elsewhere. It's no knock on New Jersey or praise for Randy Carlyle's system, but the Devils very much had a system in place and he played within it, whereas later Carlyle really didn't have him play any kind of style, and allowed him the freedom to kind of do as he pleased. Another four or five years of playing with total freedom might have changed some opinions on him. Then again, he might've needed those years to fully develop as an elite defenseman, and it was a good thing he stayed within those systems for that long. We'll never know, and it's best that way.
     
  5. aemoreira1981

    aemoreira1981 Registered User

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    A problem with Niedermayer during his time with the Devils may have been that for most of it, he was on the same roster as Scott Stevens...and with Stevens being a bruising defenseman and a master of the open-ice hit, he got all of the headlines. You really had to watch the Devils play to appreciate him. Then with the Ducks, he was on the same roster with Chris Pronger for a time (they alternated the captaincy during the time that Niedermayer was unsure about still playing, after the 2007 season). Again, he's a player you have to watch to appreciate.

    Now, as for being better than Stevens or Pronger, that is debatable, as neither Pronger nor Stevens were really forced out of the game because of declining play, but rather concussions, and Niedermayer's skills weren't really in decline. Both were playing top-pair minutes right through to the very end of their careers. I'd put Niedermayer on a tier just behind the pair.
     
  6. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Niedermayer was good defensively for most of his time in NJ, but he sure relied on Ken Daneyko to help him from being outmuscled and to cover for his space cadet moments
     
  7. The Mighty Duck Man

    The Mighty Duck Man R-E-L-A-X

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    Scotty obviously wasn't the strongest defenseman, but it is telling that he was the guy trusted with the toughest defensive assignments during his West Coast years, and not the very strong Chris Pronger, despite conventional wisdom saying it should have been the other way around. I can fully buy that he needed freedom to truly break out offensively, or that it was a bit of a struggle early on physically, but it is comments like this one that make me suspect a lot of selective memory when it comes to Niedermayer. I just have a tough time believing he went from being "good" defensively to being one of the two or three best in the world just by changing jerseys. Offensively there's a bit of sense to it, defensively not as much.

    EDIT-Not to say I'm accusing you of anything, but given he was a dazzling player who left many wanting more production-wise for the greater half of his career, it's possible we've found why he's so highly revered in some circles and leaves so many unimpressed in others.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  8. Evincar

    Evincar I have found the way

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    He also played with a much better defense partner than Pronger.

    He was properly rated. From 1995-2002 he wasnt any better (if at all) than a guy like Teppo Numminen.
     
  9. The Mighty Duck Man

    The Mighty Duck Man R-E-L-A-X

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    So, they put Niedermayer with a strong two-way guy and Pronger with an offensive black hole just so they could put the Niedermayer pairing in all the defensive assignments and the Pronger pairing with the offensive lines? Besides that, your point is still flimsy, as OD was pretty damn good defensively and really wasn't a step behind Beauch at all in that department. Nice try, though.
     
  10. Evincar

    Evincar I have found the way

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    Niedermayer and Beauchemin played together the previous season so of course they would keep them together. They didnt "decide" to put Pronger with O'Donnell since the one of the pairings was set in stone and no a 35 year old OD wasnt as good as Beauchemin. Nice try though.
     
  11. Pominville Knows

    Pominville Knows Registered User

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    NHL.com articles need to be taken with a grain of salt really. Next week if say said Pronger retires then they will have no problem with calling him better than Niedermayer, making them both better than the other one. They have their webpage to promote the NHL, it needs to be seen as propaganda.
     
  12. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    From 1994 to 2004 he was 11th in points for defensemen. 389 points. Eric Desjardins had 378. Roman Hamrlik was 9th with 399. Gonchar was 8th with 425. Zubov was 3rd with 487. Bourque missed three seasons in this time because he was retired but still was ahead of him.

    On an offensive level Niedermayer was not close to Lidstrom or Leetch during this time. Blake had 4 more points than Niedermayer at this time as well as being a better all around defenseman.

    I've said it before that Niedermayer was a guy who didn't hit his full potential until he was 30 years old. There are similarities between him up until that age and how we think of Jay Bouwmeester. How many of us would have predicted Bouwmeester would have a Norris by now and would have a much better reputation? That's how we thought about Niedermayer. Here was a guy with that brilliant goal in the 1995 Cup final or the goal against Sweden in the 1996 World Cup. We all knew he could do it if he wanted to but he didn't.

    The truth is, no one would have picked Niedermayer to start their franchise over Pronger. Heck, or Stevens for that matter. That's just how it was. It didn't mean he was underrated because he was selected for Team Canada (like Bouwmeester has been) but this is just how he was viewed. He was good with a "what if......" attached to it. But he was still good, just not great.
     
  13. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    You have to remember something else here. Pronger was hated by the media at a level that no one else has since Eric Lindros. Pronger was surly with the media, he was sarcastic, his personality wasn't great and he stayed one year in Edmonton before shipping out to Anaheim for "personal reasons." Everyone speculated that it had to do with Pronger's wife and an affair he was having in Edmonton but he stuck to his "personal reasons" story like a politician and that made the media hate him even more.

    So you have Niedermayer who is playing with him in Anaheim. A good looking, friendly defenseman finally hitting his prime with Pronger whose style was completely different. He was dirty, he got suspended in the playoffs twice in the same year, he was a big mean lurch. Apparently. If anything this made Niedermayer more appealing to people but the truth is he actually deserved it this time. He was very equal to Pronger during the post lockout era. Pronger still never got the benefit of the doubt when it came to the media or the writers. Pronger is much better than his all-star record suggests: 1 First team and three second team all-stars. While Niedermayer deserves his credit post 2003, the truth is this myth that he was underrated before that and was the same player as before is foolish. The media has made mountains out of Niedermayer while most of us wouldn't rate him ahead of Pronger or Stevens. By the way, Stevens has been a defenseman that all of the sudden has aged poorly when it comes to perceptions. Yet anyone that remembers those Cups in New Jersey knows full well Stevens was the "man" on those teams.

    Lastly, could Niedermayer do what Pronger did with a weak team in the 2006 playoffs? So yeah, Niedermayer has gotten legendary status from the media, when the truth is he is a bottom tier - but still deserving - defenseman in the HHOF.
     
  14. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Anyone who even suggested that Niedermayer might be as good as Stevens prior to 2002 would have been laughed out of the park by any Devils fan.

    Look at how the Devils did in the 2004 playoffs, the year Niedermayer won the Norris. The Devils had owned the Flyers for the better part of the decade, generally getting the better of them in both the regular season and playoffs. The Devils lost Ken Daneyko due to retirement before 2003-04 and lost Scott Stevens due to PCS mid-season. Niedermayer really ran with it and won the Norris, but in the playoffs, the Flyers larger forwards absolutely manhandled Niedermayer and the Devils defense in a way they never could before, and the Flyers won the series easily.
     
  15. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    For some reason DMM I would have had you pegged as a Niedermayer sympathizer.

    Yes I agree, Stevens was the one who drove the bus on that team. When you think about it the Devils had a very impenetrable defense those years. 1995 had Stevens, Daneyko and Niedermayer. 2000 and 2003 had those three and then Rafalski. There has never been a question to me as to why those Devils teams won. And to top if off, you've got Brodeur in there.

    But for some reason instead of people remembering the melting pot on defense for the Devils they seem to overrated Niedermayer as being the key ingredient. It wasn't like that at all.
     
  16. Rhiessan71

    Rhiessan71 Just a Fool

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    Naw, Devil saw him as he was, same as I saw him (he'll love hearing that :laugh: )

    You have to remember that Devil was an actual Devil's fan, he read all these articles that people are re-producing here. Difference is that he read them at the time they were printed and then sat there watching Nieds in person waiting for him to live up to the hype of them. Something that rarely ever happened.
     
  17. The Mighty Duck Man

    The Mighty Duck Man R-E-L-A-X

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    You still didn't answer the question. Pronger and O'Donnell has shutdown pairing written all over it. Both big, physical guys who were very good defensively and one(OD) being a non-factor offensively. Yet, they played with the offensive guys and it was Niedermayer's pairing who was put in the tough defensive assignments.

    You can argue how Beauchemin was way better than OD(he was better, but not by nearly the amount you're implying), but at the end of the day, it is very telling about Niedermayer's defensive ability that he was the guy on those teams, not Pronger. If Carlyle trusted Pronger more, his pairing would've been out there against the other teams' top lines, but he didn't, and for good reason(not a knock on Pronger).

    It's also funny how Sami Pahlsson was very highly regarded for his work as a shutdown center during those four post-lockout years with the Ducks, to the point where some even argue he deserved the 2007 Conn Smythe, yet Niedermayer tends to get zero credit, despite the fact that he played as big of a role, if not bigger, than Sami did in shutting those guys down. When people talk about undeserving Conn Smythe's, they tend to bring up Niedermayer's from 2007, and really, it's completely unfounded. His offensive numbers weren't Smythe-worthy on their own, no, but that's why you don't base it on just numbers. Opposing top lines typically had nothing going against the Ducks those playoffs, that's why he won the Smythe.
     
  18. Oneiro

    Oneiro Registered User

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    If you believe that hockey is a cumulative sport - meaning that a ton of small victories (battles, time/space-based decisions, pushing the tempo, etc.) lead to a W more often than not - I believe Neidermayer's true value (prior to '03) might not necessarily be reflected by the stat sheet or sometimes, even the eye test. It is almost purely a talent argument, I admit.

    Time and time again, does a player like that get stiffed on points and "big" moments in a NJD system? Possibly. Given the way Devils forwards played and possessed (not always scoring off the rush), I don't think a defensemen would pile up even secondary assists.

    And statistically, do we keep track of the decisions that lead to a good offensive zone entry/possession? The assumption is that they're reflected in other stats. But I think Neidermayer's ability to do start the offense "cleanly" was there and significant for a long time, before his prime. Even if you look at that little touch pass to Crosby on Canada's "Golden Goal"... The timing of and placement of it - perfect. Most wouldn't think of it as too special, but I think that was Neidermayer's natural instinct for the game exemplified. Choosing the right time and placing the puck for his teammates with just the right amount on it so they could skate and create separation for themselves.

    My argument can probably be summed up as: style points matter and have a cumulative effect not often reflected in the box score, especially with respect to a team's breakout. And I think Neids was one of the best counter-attack players in the game earlier than we might admit.

    Does that put him on par with Stevens or Pronger? No, but it's one reason why I like the "underrated before '03" argument.
     
  19. TheDevilMadeMe

    TheDevilMadeMe Registered User

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    Niedermayer almost definitely was underrated by the general hockey watching population before 2003. But now, in retrospect, his time then is usually overrated.
     
  20. struckbyaparkedcar

    struckbyaparkedcar Registered User

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    Brodeur, except opposite.
     
  21. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    I don't think there was that much difference in Niedermayer and Pronger's matchups in Anaheim. "Niedermayer faced the toughest defensive assignments" is an oversimplfication.

    Granted, I don't know how they were used during the regular season, but here's what I saw in the last two rounds of the playoffs. Either Niedermayer or Pronger's pairing was out 90% of the time, with the third pairing getting a few easy shifts against lower lines. But either Niedermayer or Pronger's pairing might be used against the other team's scoring lines. The real matchup game was played up front, with the Pahlsson line was matched against the opponent's top forward line. If opposing coaches reacted by splitting up their top line, that was fine because either Pronger or Niedermayer would be out against the scoring lines. That's what happened against Detroit, with Datsyuk and Zetterberg moving to separate lines (I think Niedermayer played against Zetterberg and Pronger against Datsyuk for the most part) and even Ottawa's Heatley-Spezza-Alfredsson line was split up before the end of their series.

    In fact, when Anaheim played Ottawa (very much a one-line team) in the final, Pronger and Niedermayer played on the same pairing for most of the first two games at home and shut down Ottawa's top line, together with the Paulsson line. They were split up in Game 3 on the road, and of course Pronger missed Game 4 with a suspension and Niedermayer-Beauchemin faced the tough matchups in that game. In Game 5 Ottawa split their top line and Anaheim split Niedermayer and Pronger in response.

    Niedermayer-Beauchemin definitely played the toughest matchups in the two games Pronger was suspended, and deserve a lot of credit for their performance in those games. But otherwise I think Pronger and Niedermayer played pretty similar roles.

    I must admit that it's hard to remember EV units from those playoffs because so much of it was played on the power play back in the "new NHL". But that also meant the Anaheim blueline was always churning, getting Pronger and Niedermayer out together on special teams and then adjusting after the PP was over. Those combinations were more fluid than we remember. Niedermayer-Beauchemin, Pronger-O'Donnell, Huskins/Dipenta/Jackman were the basic lineup but it was very common to see a different combination out there.
     
  22. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    You should rewind it about 10 seconds before that. Niedermayer nearly costs Canada the Gold medal with a horrible cross ice pass that is intercepted by (Pavelski?) and a bit of a tricky shot that Luongo handles. Had that puck gone in, his name would illicit a lot of anger from Canadians. He was that close. His passive approach made me a little nervous when he was on the ice to be honest.
     
  23. The Mighty Duck Man

    The Mighty Duck Man R-E-L-A-X

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    That's pretty much the exact cut-off for data on the subject, but I don't remember that being a regular occurrence at all. Carlyle, for the most part, would avoid putting them together unless necessary, and I'm guessing with Ottawa's one-line team, he thought it best. But, starting the year after when the data's available, it's insane just how little those two played together. Niedermayer missed a lot of games, but still, at even strength he and Pronger were on the ice together rarely at best, less than a percent of the Ducks total ES minutes that season. And while Carlyle obviously had the luxury of not having to be a stickler on his defensive match-ups, for the most part he was, as Niedermayer's most common linemates, after Beauchemin, were guys from those checking lines, and Prongers, after O'Donnell, was the scoring lines. Was it something that occurred 100% of the time? Obviously not, but there's no question which defender he preferred to have out there in a shutdown role.

    The main point of all this is that while everyone's arguing about how his offense wasn't very relevant for a great portion of his career, they've forgotten or ignored that he was elite defensively for a great number of years.
     
  24. MS

    MS 1%er

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    Agree with everything else you wrote, except this.

    As much as Niedermayer is over-rated, Blake is even more so.

    Blake benefitted tremendously from playing his entire career on the West Coast in non-traditional hockey markets. Almost all of his games were played with the majority of the influential hockey media (and most fans) already in bed.

    See him once or twice a season, and you're impressed by the power in his game, his big shot, and his awesome ass-checks. See him play every night, and you start to notice how little hockey sense he had in his own zone, how poorly he timed many of his hits, and how generally average defensively he was.

    Norstrom in LA and Foote in Colorado were the guys doing the dirty work and getting all the tough matchups. As a Canuck fan, I loved seeing the WCE on the ice against Blake instead of Foote. Blake was an offensive defender who hit hard, and who everyone assumed was far better than he was because people associate hitting people with good defensive play.

    Only in his last couple years in SJ, when his skills were diminishing, did he finally learn to play within himself and limit his mistakes.

    And yeah, his Norris was one of the most phony award wins of all time. Lidstrom and Numminen should both have lapped him in voting that year.
     
  25. billybudd

    billybudd 1for the other thumb

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    That's a name I haven't heard in a while. Was always very impressed with that guy's game.

    Agree with the majority of this. Blake was almost like the result of a "create a player" for 14 year olds. Hit like a truck, big slapshot, big numbers. Watch a highlight reel and he was great. Really focus on what he's doing and why and you started to see a lot of cracks.
     

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