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-S�bastien 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 series lead.)
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. Ana-heim 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.