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Lamoriello, who is also the Devils' president, could have never predicted that Niedermayer would develop into a three-time All-Star and Norris Trophy recipient (2004) as the top defenseman in the NHL.

“I don’t think anyone could have imagined the success Scottie had,” Lamoriello said. “You never know how things would work out. He absolutely exceeded our expectations. He’s a special player, but he’s just as good of a person as he was a player.”

Lamoriello said that it’s no coincidence that the first three Devils to have their uniform numbers retired were all defenseman. Not to mention, the obvious next one to go to the rafters, future Hall of Fame goalkeeper Martin Brodeur, were all on the defensive side.

“I never really thought of it, but we’ve become synonymous with our defense,” Lamoriello said. “That’s the way we think and that’s the way we are. It’s just the way it worked out.”

In 13 seasons with the Devils, Niedermayer collected 101 goals and 364 assists, posting career bests of 14 goals twice in 1998 and his final year in New Jersey (2004).

After that season, Niedermayer signed as a free agent with the Ducks and played his final five years there, leading Anaheim to the Cup in 2007, his fourth and final one. He won the Stanley Cup along with his brother, Rob. Niedermayer continues to do some part-time public relations and consulting with Anaheim after he retired in 2010.

But Niedermayer was happy to be back in New Jersey Friday.

“When I got the call from Lou that they were doing this, I was honored,” Niedermayer said. “It really meant a lot to me. The time I spent here was amazing. We were able to win championships. It brings back so many of the memories. It’s hitting home now. I’m seeing so many familiar faces. I’m sure the emotions are going to start to flow. It’s a great honor. Joining this organization was great. It was better than any of my wildest dreams.”

Niedermayer vividly recalls the first of the Devils’ Stanley Cup championships in 1995. In Game 2 of the final series vs. heavily favored Detroit, he scored a memorable goal in which he skated end to end, and fired a shot off the back boards, which caromed right back to his stick. He then deposited it past Red Wings goaltender Mike Vernon en route to a 4-2 win. The Devils, who trailed in that game, 2-1, at the time of the goal, won the series in a dominant four-game sweep.

“I was still young enough at the time that I really didn’t appreciate it,” Niedermayer said. “I was just out there, having a good time and we were fortunate to win a championship that early in my career.”

The coast-to-coast goal was shown several times on the jumbotron’s highlight reel.

“Everyone loves scoring a goal. Winning that first championship was amazing. We truly believed in ourselves. Skating always allowed me to have some success. It would sometimes get me into trouble, but it would also get me out of trouble. My skating was my strength and it helped me in all areas of the game. I took advantage of it when I could.”

In 2000, Niedermayer and the Devils defeated Dallas, the same team that was at The Rock for the ceremony, in six games to win the Cup. In 2003, the team’s last championship, he and New Jersey defeated Anaheim, the organization he’d eventually leave for, in seven games.

That season, he was a teammate of Hall-of-Fame forward Joe Nieuwendyk, who is now the general manager of the Stars and was proud to be on hand for such an event.

“There’s not many defenseman who play this game, who can seemingly play any style and adjust their game to whatever that team, whatever that season called for,” Nieuwendyk said. “He was one of those types of players.

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