The Anaheim Ducks have recently announced two numbers the organization will retire this coming season. The most deserving out of the two is Paul Kariya’s No. 9, who spent the first nine seasons of his career, and had his best years in Anaheim. The second number, is someone Devils fans should be familiar with—defenseman Scott Niedermayer. New Jersey retired Niedermayer’s No. 27 over six years ago, an honor he rightfully deserved after helping the team win three Stanley Cups over his 13 seasons in New Jersey. Having said that, Anaheim’s decision to retire Niedermayer’s jersey has raised questions among Devils fans on whether this move is truly warranted by the Ducks, where Niedermayer spent the last five seasons of his playing career.
Niedermayer left New Jersey to play with his brother Rob on the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim after the 2003-2004 season (and subsequent 2004-2005 lockout). He ended up playing in Anaheim for five seasons, captaining for the team for four of those years. Niedermayer appeared in 371 games with the Ducks, over which he registered 60 goals and 264 points. In 2007, Niedermayer led the Ducks to their first and only Stanley Cup in franchise history, won the Conn Smythe Trophy, and set the single season scoring record for Ducks defensemen with 15 goals and 69 points—all in the same year.
Scott Niedermayer played five seasons with the Ducks (one was 48 games because he wasn't sure he wanted to continue playing).
The impact he had on that organization, helping it win its first (and only) Stanley Cup, is unquestionable. To me, he is part of the Ducks' Mt. Rushmore.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) July 9, 2018
Despite some opposition from what can only be described as “butthurt” Devils fans, Niedermayer’s No. 27 deserves to be retired by Anaheim. A player’s jersey number does not need to be retired because they played their entire career with a team, set franchise records, or were a fan favorite. A player’s number should be retired by an organization if they made a profound positive contribution to that franchise’s history. Scott Niedermayer did so for Anaheim, which is something Devils fans must recognize. While most Devils fans know Niedermayer will always be a Devil first and foremost, his impact on the Ducks franchise cannot be dismissed. This is well-earned by Niedermayer and while I too wish only the Devils could have bestowed him with this honor, I won’t deny the immeasurable impression he made in Anaheim.
Neidermayer will be only the eighth player in NHL history to have his number retired by two different teams. Among those players is Ray Bourque (another defenseman), who had his No. 77 retired by the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. Bourque spent over 20 years in Boston and despite winning a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche, only appeared in 94 regular season contests with the organization. While I personally don’t agree with Colorado’s decision to retire Bourque’s number, it’s a keen example of how a player’s accomplishments can ultimately outweigh their duration with one team when reflecting on their value to an organization.
While most believe Anaheim is making the right decision to retire Niedermayer’s No. 27 and this move doesn’t take away anything he’s done during his time as a Devil, a case can ultimately be made on both sides of this topic that deserves its time in the spotlight to be discussed.