Rob and Scott Niedermayer, upon winning the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Mark Avery photo

Rob and Scott Niedermayer, upon winning the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Mark Avery photo

Cranbrook’s Brothers of the Blades

Scott and Rob Niedermayer represented a Cranbrook family’s mark on an era in the NHL

Anthony Dransfeld

When your older brother is Scott Niedermayer, the modern-day version of the immortal Bobby Orr, well, that is a tough gig to follow. Younger brother Rob Niedermayer was a star player in his own right, spending 18 seasons in the NHL. (the same as Scott).

In 1991 Scott was drafted 3rd overall by New Jersey; two years later Robbie was picked fifth overall by the Florida Panthers.

Their hockey paths finally merged in Anaheim, where they won the Stanley Cup in 2007 for the Ducks (Scott was team Captain, Robbie Assistant Captain). As far as ability goes, Rob skated just about as well as Scottie, and he was bigger, playing Right Wing and Centre.

Besides the physical gifts, you must be smart on the ice, and Rob was a player with a very high hockey IQ. Because Scott was so outstanding on defence, Rob often flew under the radar, performing important duties.

His line always drew the checking assignment of the other team’s top scorer — Rob Niedermayer was effective at that. Checking is an art form, not glamorous, but vitally important to a hockey team. I watched the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs, Anaheim vs. Edmonton Oilers. Scott played excellent hockey as usual, but Rob was over and above, laying on some hard body checks, killing penalties and chipping in offensively. He was a force in that series.

Casual hockey fans tend to forget that Rob played heavy minutes in big games, and of course Scott did too . The Oilers eventually defeated the Anaheim Ducks, assisted by the strong play of Chris Pronger, who then joined the Anaheim Ducks for their next season (2007) which resulted in the Ducks’ Stanley Cup win.

(When Anaheim won the Cup, it was the first time a West Coast team had done so since the Victoria Cougars in 1925, a span of 82 seasons.)

The defining moment of the Anaheim-Vancouver Canuck Stanley Cup semifinal of 2007 came in double overtime, when Robbie Niedermayer stapled Yannick Hansen of the Canucks to the boards, relieved him of the puck, and made a backhand no-look pass to Scott, who fired the puck on net. The red light went on, and the Ducks were advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals against Ottawa.

When the final game was on the line, both Robbie and Scott seemed to be always on the ice. As the game was played on the west coast, their parents, Carol and Bob, were able to see their sons win the Cup, a 137-year-old trophy.

A great moment for the Niedermayer family.

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Rob and Scott have both been retired from hockey for over a decade, Both brothers live in Western Canada: Rob is a farmer and a soccer coach ( Rob and his wife Jessie have three daughters Brooke, Reese and Josie who are very active in soccer, gymnastics, and other sports) Scott and his wife Lisa have Josh and Luke playing Junior A Hockey in the Okanagan for the Penticton Vees, two sons pursuing Education, and their eldest son Jackson is currently playing College hockey for Arizona State University in Tempe.

The Niedermayer brothers’ athletic talents are not limited to hockey. Rob is an excellent golfer (2 handicap) and a competitive cyclist. Scott is an expert Telemark skier. Scott had a clause in his hockey contract with the New Jersey Devils which did not allow him to ski. As soon as he retired, Scott was back on the boards in Kimberley.

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Hockey is 80 per cent skating. The Niedermayer Brothers were arguably two of the best skaters in the NHL. As young boys in Cranbrook, they were fortunate to have a power skating teacher who gave them many of hours of instruction (usually at the Marysville Arena). Her assistant Instructor was Carol Niedermayer, a gifted athlete in her own right. A terrific softball player who could really run.

Pictured: Scott Niedermayer, age 6, skating in Cranbrook in January, 1980. (Cranbrook Townsman)

Dr. Bob Niedermayer practiced medicine in Cranbrook. Having two boys in Minor Hockey is certainly not cheap. Carol went on the road, when her job would allow, for hockey tournaments, and lots of hockey travelling.

Bob and Carol’s system of support for Robbie and Scott worked out very well. Parents sacrifice a great deal to give their kids a chance to follow their hockey dreams. Carol is a unique person due to the fact she never speaks ill of anyone, and does not gossip.

In summing up the boys’ careers, as fine a hockey player as Rob was , he was always going to be overshadowed by his older brother. It was not appropriate to ever compare him to one of the very best in the world, who played a completely different position.

As one of their parents once told me long ago, the game of hockey came naturally and easily to Scott. Rob had to work hard for everything he got in the sport. Underrated, Rob was certainly adept at throwing a body check. Defensively speaking, I would give the nod to Robbie. When he was assigned to be your checker, you were pretty much done for the night. All of the offensive stars suddenly became very ordinary players, you did not hear their names called very much. I saw that time and time again.

Robbie and Scott Niedermayer played four seasons Anaheim, culminating with the Stanley Cup in 2007. It is hard to believe they have been retired for over 10 years. It has been 14 years since the Stanley Cup last visited Cranbrook, with the Niedermayer boys.

Robbie’s greatest experience in hockey, was winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 with his brother Scott. The same holds true for Scott, even surpassing his Olympic Gold Medal in 2010 and his previous Stanley Cups with New Jersey.

Scott — who at one time seriously considered going into medicine, like his Dad —was held in such high esteem by his peers, he was named Captain of the 2010 Canadian Olympic Team at the Winter Games in Vancouver.