Decision Time for Niedermayer
Anaheim Ducks defenceman Scott Niedermayer has a major decision over the next week to make. Niedermayer has been dealing with a minor knee injury that minor surgery and a couple of weeks rest will take care of. The injury does need to be addressed, the problem is when should he address it?
You see, Niedermayer is not only the Ducks best player, but a major player for Team Canada for the upcoming Olympics. One option is to take care of the injury problem now and rest during the Olympic break so he can be back to 100% for the stretch drive. This choice would minimize the amount of NHL games missed. The Ducks are only 4 points from a playoff spot and need Niedermayer if they ever want to play in the spring.
Another option is to have the surgery after the Olympics and miss a few weeks of NHL action. He would able to fulfill his desire to represent Canada but at the same time hurt his own team in Anaheim.
He could also hold out to the end of the year and have the surgery done then. But this leaves him open to make the injury worse as playing on it has been taxing enough as is.
The choice has been left up to him by the Ducks and by Team Canada. Both sides have so much respect for Niedermayer that they have left such a huge decision to him. With the type of player and person Niedermayer is, it is not a surprise that he is significantly torn as to which way to go. He is the Ducks captain and best player and they are paying him close to $7 million per season. He feels very obligated to them because they are paying him big dollars and because they are so very close to a playoff spot which he knows he can help secure if he is playing, especially if he is 100% healthy.
But he also has great passion for Canada and representing his country. He has almost always said yes when he was asked to wear the Maple Leaf whether it be the Olympics, the Worlds or the World Cup or the World Jrs. In fact he has won at every level internationally. He has said he thoroughly enjoyed the Olympic experience and definitely is interested in reliving that experience again. He also realize he can be a real impact player for the team as is arguably the best defencemen from Canada.
Canada’s depth on defence is so big that there are several quality replacements waiting in the wings if needed. But it would be hard to find someone the calibre of Niedermayer.
But his injury isnt the only concern with Canada. Certainly the injury status of not only Jovanovski who has already been lost, but the likes of Foote, Mccabe among others probably weighs in his decision. Canada already lost 1 guy and if 2 or 3 others cant go, how would Niedermayer feel bowing out as well?
So as you can see, it is a tough choice for Niedermayer. Business wise, the logical choice would be to have surgery now, take the 2 weeks off and rest up for the team that’s paying him. But in his heart, you know he badly wants to play for Canada because that is what most Canadians feel, pride in their country when it comes to their sport.
I hope his choice is respected by fans and the media. he has earned that respect by being arguably the best defenceman in the World. I do remember how Mario Lemieux was villified in Pittsburgh for playing for Canada hurt and taking himself out for the year. I will say this, if Mario was playing for the Americans he would be lauded for his courage and patriotism, not criticized. I do believe Steve Yzerman received similar treatment for missing the 2nd half of the season, but those thoughts disappeared when he willed himself to lead his Wings to yet another cup win.
I selfishly hope Niedermayer plays for Canada. And for once it would be nice to hear some of the Canadian media appreciate his patriotism rather than be such pushovers and criticize him for wearing the Maple Leaf. I have already hear comments from the likes of Bill Watters, Glenn Healy and other Canadian hockey analysts saying he should definitely skip the Olympics. Niedermayer has earned the right to make his own choice and his decision should be respected either way.