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Brotherly love leads the parade

Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer passes Cup to sibling and teammate Rob to start procession on ice, a tribute to all they have shared.

June 07, 2007|David Wharton | Times Staff Writer

When a team wins the Stanley Cup, tradition calls for the captain to accept the historic silver trophy, hold it aloft and skate down the ice in a victory procession.

But when Scott Niedermayer did the honors after leading the Ducks to a clinching victory over the Ottawa Senators at the Honda Center on Wednesday, he decided to break with tradition.

Niedermayer handed the Cup to his brother and teammate, Rob, to start the parade.

At which point, Scott got a little misty-eyed. Rob downright cried. So did their mother and father in the stands.

"I couldn't ask for a better feeling," Rob said. "Maybe the best feeling I'll ever have."

Almost a quarter-century has passed since brothers won an NHL title together. The Ducks' 6-2 victory brought full circle an oft-told story that had its origin four years ago when Scott and Rob shared a very different kind of Stanley Cup memory.

In 2003, Scott was on the New Jersey Devils team that defeated Rob and the Ducks in seven games. It was Scott's third championship, while Rob was left empty-handed.

"That was a heart-wrenching experience," their father said.

Bob Niedermayer recalls that all through junior hockey and into the professional ranks, Rob was the one who ended up on losing teams.

"He always had to wait," Bob said.

As Rob put it: "I never knew if [winning a title] was going to happen in my career."

After the 2003 finals, Scott made a point of telling everyone how hard and well Rob had played, how much he deserved to win. But that didn't change the fact that when Scott brought the Cup to Cranbrook, their home town in British Columbia, Rob had to mind another tradition -- only winners handle the hardware.

"It's been in my hometown three times," he said. "I never got to touch it."

His fortunes took a turn for the better two years ago when Scott became a free agent. Rejecting a more lucrative offer, he chose to play with his brother.

Finally, Rob had a real shot at winning.

All through this series, the Niedermayers were asked about how it might feel but did not want to think that far ahead. Even on Wednesday afternoon, with their team leading the series three games to one, they didn't dare.

Once the game began, Rob quickly displayed the resolve that had built up over years of falling short.

With the Ducks leading 1-0 in the first period, he drove around Ottawa's Mike Comrie and, with the opponent hanging on his back, flicked a shot past goaltender Ray Emery.

Scott made his mark in the third period, assisting on Travis Moen's goal to widen the lead to 5-2. It was but one of the plays that landed him the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason's most valuable player.

With the clock winding down, the Ducks holding a comfortable lead, Scott let himself think about the victory celebration.

This was his first time as captain of the winning team, so he knew that he would accept the Cup from the commissioner. He also knew exactly what he wanted to do next.

"As captain, I figured I could make the decision," he said. "I didn't think anyone would argue."

Tradition be damned. He called for his brother.

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