Ducks to retire jerseys of Kariya, Niedermayer this season

Adam Gretz
NBC Sports

The Anaheim Ducks announced on Monday that they are going to honor two of the franchise’s best all-time players during the 2018-19 season when they retire the jersey numbers of Paul Kariya (No. 9) and defenseman Scott Niedermayer (No. 27).

Kariya’s number retirement ceremony will take place on Oct. 21 against the Buffalo Sabres, while Niedermayer will have his night on Feb. 17 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

Niedermayer, whose number 27 is also retired by the New Jersey Devils, will become the eighth player in league history to have his jersey retired by two different teams. That list includes Mark Messier (Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers), Bobby Hull (Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets), Tim Horton (Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs), Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings), Ray Bourque (Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche), Gordie Howe (Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes), and Patrick Roy (Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche).

“Paul Kariya and Scott Niedermayer both had an enormous impact on our franchise.” said Ducks Owners Henry and Susan Samueli in a statement released by the team.

“Paul was the club’s first superstar player, helped put Anaheim on the NHL map and electrified fans with his speed and play-making ability. Scott led our team to the first Stanley Cup in California’s history with a Conn Smythe performance in 2007 that will be remembered in this community forever. Although Paul and Scott played in different eras of Ducks hockey, they shared similar traits: to captain the Ducks with class, dignity and determination.”

Kariya is the big one here, and his jersey going into the rafters is probably long overdue.

He spent nine years with the Ducks, playing the best hockey of his career in Anaheim. His 300 goals and 669 total points with the team place him among the top-four in both categories. He was a superstar with the Ducks and a key part of their 2002-03 team that made a run to the Stanley Cup Final. Following that season he signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche to reunite with former Ducks teammate Teemu Selanne. He also spent time with Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues in his career.

Kariya’s career came to a premature end due to concussions, and his relationship with the NHL and the game of hockey was strained in retirement. A little more than a year ago it was mentioned by Selanne that the Ducks wanted to bring Kariya back into the fold with the team but that he was still “very bitter” about hockey.

When Kariya officially retired back in 2011 he was extremely critical of the league and the way it handled head injuries.

He was the first ever draft pick in Ducks franchise history, going fourth overall in 1993.

“I am extremely honored and very thankful to Henry and Susan Samueli and the entire Ducks organization for this incredible recognition,” said Kariya in the Ducks’ statement. “This is not something I ever dreamed would happen. I am very grateful to the community for their support, and I look forward to celebrating this special evening in October with all Ducks fans.”

Niedermayer spent the final five seasons of his NHL career in Anaheim, joining the team as a free agent ahead of the 2005-06 season. After a remarkable career with the Devils that saw him win the Norris Trophy and three Stanley Cups, he joined the Ducks where he would have an opportunity to play with his brother, Rob. It was also in Anaheim where he eventually joined forces with another Hall of Fame defenseman in Chris Pronger and helped give the Ducks one of the most dominant defense-pairings ever, a duo that helped lead the team to its first — and to this point only — Stanley Cup during the 2006-07 season.

“I received a very special call last week from Henry Samueli, informing me that the Ducks were going to retire my jersey,” said Niedermayer in the Ducks’ statement. “What an incredible honor. I’m very grateful to have played for such an incredible organization in front of amazing Ducks fans. I’m also grateful for the amazing teammates, coaches and training staff I was able to work with in Anaheim. Together we achieved great things. I want to thank Henry and Susan Samueli for this honor. I am looking forward to the special night during the 25th Anniversary season of Ducks hockey.”

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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