SUN Hockey Pool

Scott who?

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

The pre-game attention would have normally been reserved for one of the NHL's premier talents reaching one of the NHL's premier milestones - classy, Edmonton-born defenceman Scott Niedermayer playing his 1,000th NHL game.

Unfortunately, not-so-classy former Edmonton Oiler defenceman Chris Pronger returned to the scene of his greatest perceived crime on the same night - and with all that venom to hype and advance, there was no time for congratulations or sentimentality.

So Scott Niedermayer, the smooth-as-silk three-time Stanley Cup champion, settled for footnote status on Let's Hate Chris Pronger Night.

Fine by him. In fact, flying under the radar suits the low-key Anaheim Ducks captain just fine.

"I'm not overly worried about it,'' smiled the 33-year-old blueliner, who received a loud ovation from the Edmonton fans when his accomplishment was announced on the scoreboard.

"That was nice.''

In the end, Pronger vs Rexall turned into a non-event. Niedermayer reaching 1,000, on the other hand, is something of real substance.

'A BIT OF SUCCESS'

"I've been fortunate to have played in the league a while, met a lot of great people and had a bit success along the way,'' said Niedermayer, who played his first game, Oct. 16, 1991, at Madison Square Garden. "I'm pretty thankful for that.''

A little success along the way?

His trophy case is ridiculous. The Stanley Cups, an Olympic gold, a World Cup, a World Championship, a Memorial Cup and a World Junior Championship. No other player has ever won all six titles.

It's no coincidence that the teams he plays for tend to win.

"Last year when he came over from New Jersey I said he's the best player I've ever played with and that still stands,'' said Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere. "He can take control of a game and turn it in his favour when he needs to. Not many guys can do that.''

Being one of the game's best skaters helps, as does a head for the game.

"He can read the game better than most of us,'' said Giguere. "He's just a natural raw talent. You combine that with being a great leader, a great teammate and a great person, he's got all the qualities.

"He's also very humble ... You don't see that very often in a great player.''

The Ducks, to a man, wanted to win this one for both their workhorse defencemen.

"It's a big night for him, it's an accomplishment,'' said Randy Carlyle. "He's played a lot more hockey than 1,000 league games. He's played in Stanley Cups and World Cups and represented Canada in the Olympics. He's got a lot more playoff wear and tear on him than I did. It's a tribute to him and it's a special night for him.''

That's why, even though Niedermayer doesn't seem to care, Carlyle was fuming that for four days leading up to the Anaheim-Edmonton game it was All Pronger, All The Time.

PRONGER, PRONGER, PRONGER

How does Pronger feel about being booed? How do the Oilers feel about Pronger being booed? How do the Ducks feel about Pronger being booed? How do the Oilers feel Pronger feels about being booed?

"There was only one media scribe that asked about the accomplishments of Scott Niedermayer (the day before the game) and I thought that was a tremendous oversight on the media's part,'' said the coach.

"Those are the things that take second notice in the market when things are heated the way they are. But you got what you wanted.''

And maybe, so did Niedermayer. Ask his brother.

"It's pretty special that he could do it near family and friends,'' said brother Rob Niedermayer, adding the Pronger smokescreen was perfect. "I know him, and this is probably the way he wanted it.''


Videos

Photos