Niedermayer was hired as an assistant to the Ducks on January 11. Niedermayer spent five seasons of his 18-year career in Anaheim, one season with the Ducks when they were the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and four seasons with them when they were just the Anaheim Ducks. Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s playoff MVP, after leading the Ducks to their only Stanley Cup Championship in 2007. The defenseman retired in June 2010 at just 36 years of age.
Niedermayer has spent the past two years as a consultant to the Ducks’ hockey operations department.
Niedermayer is a six-time All-Star who won the Norris Trophy while playing for the New Jersey Devils in 2004. He is a four-time Stanley Cup champion, winning it with the Ducks in 2007, and with the Devils in 1995, 2000, and 2003.
The Ducks have not had a successful season in a while. With players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, and Teemu Selanne on your team, it’s hard to imagine your team would have trouble going far in the playoffs or even just making the playoffs. I do think the Ducks made a huge mistake when they traded defenseman, Chris Pronger. In the past five seasons the Ducks have only made the playoffs three times and only made it to the semifinals once, where they lost the series to the Red Wings 3-4. The Ducks didn’t even finish the 2011-12 season with a winning record.
It is hard to pin-point where the Ducks’ problems exactly lie. In 2008, Ducks general manager, Brian Burke, resigned on November 12 to take over as the president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a slow start to the 2011-12 season, the Ducks fired head coach, Randy Carlyle, and replaced him with former Washington Capitals head coach, Bruce Boudreau. The chance of head coaches did not help the Ducks get out of their slump that they slid into during the first half of the season. The Ducks failed to reach the playoffs in the 2011-12 season.
I’ve always thought the one sure way to make a successful hockey team was to have chemistry between the players and coaches. Kind of like the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, and Detroit Red Wings have. I understand some might question why I added the Penguins are there. The Penguins have a very strong bond between the players and head coach, Dan Bylsma. Unfortunately, the team has been plagued with countless injuries over the past few years, including to their two star forwards, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, and their leading defenseman, Kris Letang. Not to mention, not having a suitable backup goalie for Marc-Andre Fleury.
I personally think Niedermayer will help the Ducks a lot. I think it makes a big difference when a coach, whether assistant or head coach, is a previous player with the team he is coaching. They seem like they would have a connection with the players (some who they have played with) better than anything. Niedermayer joins Anaheim assistant coaches Bob Woods and Brad Lauer, led by head coach Bruce Boudreau. I think Niedermayer will only make the Ducks stronger, but we’ll have to wait to find that out until May or possibly even next season. Miracles don’t happen overnight.