Full of Life
Rob Niedermayer's move to Anaheim has sparked him and the Ducks
Mighty Ducks center Rob Niedermayer has often smiled politely at
those who have serenaded him with that famous line from Animal
House: "Niedermayer...dead." Alas, in recent years that phrase
has been an apt description for his game. Last season, his first
with the Flames, Niedermayer, a former first-round draft pick of
the Panthers who spent eight NHL seasons with Florida, had only
20 points. This year he had 18 points in 54 games when Calgary
shipped him to Anaheim at the March trade deadline.
At 28 Niedermayer has found new life since the deal. "There's
nothing worse than being on a team going nowhere," he says. "All
of a sudden I got traded to a team that was getting better. It
was fantastic." While goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere has received
most of the attention for the Ducks' surprising playoff run, the
speed, grit and hustle that the 6'2", 205-pound Niedermayer
brings to the lineup have also been key elements for Anaheim.
(After losing to the Stars 2-1 on Monday, the Ducks held a 2-1
After scoring a goal against Dallas in Game 1, Niedermayer sent
Game 2 into overtime when he banged home a loose puck during a
scrum with 1:09 left in regulation. "He does it all," left wing
Paul Kariya said after the game.
Niedermayer's renaissance is due in part to his being reunited
with old friends. He and Kariya grew up and played against each
other in the Vancouver area. Anaheim G.M. Bryan Murray, who held
the same job in Florida, says Niedermayer "was a very good
talent. Before long, he was the guy we matched against all the
top centers, like Mario Lemieux."
Now Niedermayer is again playing at that level, and his team's
Stanley Cup hopes are very much...alive.
Poor Playoff Scheduling
No Way to Finish A Series
After two first-round series (Flyers-Leafs and Wild-Avs) were
decided by back-to-back Games 6 and 7 on consecutive nights in
different cities, the league should have learned its scheduling
lesson. But if the Canucks-Wild second-round series, which was
1-1 through Sunday, goes seven, the final three matches will be
played in four nights, including Game 6 in Minnesota on May 7 and
Game 7 in Vancouver on May 8.
Postseason scheduling is difficult because of arena commitments,
but forcing teams to cross time zones and play their most
important games on fumes is wrong. The NHL should guarantee a
travel day between Games 6 and 7, even if that means adding days
to the already lengthy playoff schedule.