Dressed in jeans and a polo shirt, the Hall of Fame defenseman observed a touch screen that showed a photo of the 2007 Cup-winning Ducks team that he captained. He then looked at a display of hockey skates through the years, some that were roughly 100 years old with wrinkled leather.
“There’s no foot support there,” Niedermayer said with a grin.
Later, Niedermayer’s former Ducks teammate, Teemu Selanne, took the same tour as the two were part of the league’s ongoing centennial celebration of the 100th anniversary of the NHL. The Cup was on display and the line to take photos with it easily exceeded 100 people. There was also an interactive virtual Zamboni ride station and a ball hockey rink inside the arena.
Next week the “Centennial Fan Arena,” as the league calls it, will roll to Staples Center for the All-Star Game.
It was natural for Niedermayer and Selanne to participate given their place in hockey, particularly as part of the ’07 team that some consider to be among the best in NHL history. On March 12, the Ducks will reunite the members from that team for a 10th anniversary celebration.
“When you look at your career in those terms, sometimes it seems like, ‘Wow, it’s already 10 years,’” Niedermayer said. “But other times, it seems like it was so long ago. It depends on how you look at it. It is kind of hard to believe 10 years have passed that quickly.”
Niedermayer remembers reuniting with his former New Jersey Devils teammates two years ago for the 20th anniversary of New Jersey’s 1995 Cup win.
“Just getting back in the dressing room to play an alumni game, it’s like nothing changed,” Niedermayer said. “It was frozen in [time]. Everybody was back in their same role, saying the same stuff. It’s fun. I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing the guys [in March] too.”
Niedermayer, 43, and Selanne, 46, are each fathers of four children, and both have stayed busy. In between his hockey-dad duties with his four sons, Niedermayer has a coaching role with the Ducks in working with their young defensemen.
Selanne, who has three sons — one of whom, Eetu, will play hockey at Northeastern — and a daughter, is enjoying retirement to the fullest. He said he plays tennis and golf every day, in addition to his ownership in a Laguna Beach restaurant and a recent gig as host of a Finnish reality television show, “Superstars.”
“I was joking to my friends, that if I would know how much fun this, I would have retired maybe a couple of years earlier,” Selanne said.
Selanne notably was expected to retire after the Cup win but played seven more years.
“I always remember, I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m done. [But] after that, I think I enjoyed hockey even more than before.”
Selanne looked forward to the reunion. The Ducks are believed to have secured RSVPs from nearly all the members.
“By far, that was the best year of my life,” Selanne said. “Every time I think about that year and how it happened and everything, it was so much fun. It was unbelievable. So special.”