Monday, September 26, 2011
Nieds' number to be retired 12/16, plus more ownership news
Confirming a rumor that had made the rounds on the internet for the last couple of weeks, the Devils announced they will in fact retire the number 27 of long-time defenseman Scott Niedermayer before their December 16th home tilt versus the Dallas Stars. Niedermayer's number will be just the third to go up in the rafters, after Scott Stevens' #4 and Ken Daneyko's #3 both went up in 2006. Unlike the first two retirees, Nieds did not finish his career with the Devils, a fact that's led to much consternation and debate throughout the fanbase over whether his number should be retired.
I say that's nonsense. Clearly the HOF-defenseman to be deserves the honor on merit, after being an intregal part to three Stanley Cups and a Norris trophy winner during his ten plus years in New Jersey. Not to mention a gold medal during the 2002 Olympics. Yes, it's odd that Nieds' number will be going up after it's been on the back of workmanlike defenseman Mike Mottau the last couple of years and clearly his ceremony won't have the same juice as Stevens' or Dano's did. Hopefully the fans show some class though, and give Nieds the respect his career deserves.
Yes, he left the Devils - big whoop, he left to go play with his brother (and ultimately help get Rob the Stanley Cup he was denied in 2003 during a back-and-forth finals with Scott's Devils). Very few players actually finish their career with the team that drafted them, and Stevens didn't start his here. Fans do tend to hold grudges longer than GM's, especially Lou Lamoriello - who didn't hesitate to bring guys like Claude Lemieux back after his messy departure during the '95 offseason, or Petr Sykora this year for that matter after the cloud he left under following the '02 playoffs. If Lou - who values loyalty to the nth degree - can 'forgive' these players, fans should be able to as well.
In other Devils news, it appears that the sale of Ray Chambers' 47% of the team has finally reached a resolution, with Chambers agreeing to pay $25 million and give current majority owner Jeff Vanderbeek his share of the team in exchange for being absolved of any debt responsibility. Granted, I'm glad Vanderbeek has undisputed control of the team now since he's a hockey guy that genuinely seems to be a fan...but honestly the terms of the sale concern me. It's unheard of - at least to me - that anyone would have to pay money just to 'get rid' of almost half a major professional sports team. If the current debt level is so high that the better option is to give up $25 million and 47% of the team without getting anything in return, then how much of a problem is the debt going to be down the road?!
In a way it's like the Devils trading a first-round pick just to rid themselves of the Vladimir Malakhov contract, only on a much larger scale. Hopefully Vanderbeek will be able to resolve the team's current financial state now that he's the only voice that counts, seeing as he has 94% of the team at this point. Perhaps the team's finances a concern for down the road (starting with this season and the Zach Parise negotiations), but in the short term hopefully things stabilize both on and off the ice.