Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 39
The Stanley Cup Journal

(September 5, 2003) - For several weeks now, fire has ravaged acres of timber in the British Columbia interior. Devastating flames have licked clean the countryside in and around the Kelowna area, forcing families to evacuate their homes — some temporarily and others, regrettably, permanently. Most recently, these fires have threatened to raze homes in Cranbrook, the hometown of Scott Niedermayer. The blaze, so far, both uncontained and uncontrolled in the Lamb Creek area fifteen kilometres southwest of Cranbrook, is being fuelled by nature's tinder — bone dry forests and the winds of 35 kilometres per hour fanning the flames. The blaze, currently covering an area 110 kilometres square, was started by a random lightning strike and poses a very real threat to the town of 18,000.

Scott Niedermayer poses with the Stanley Cup and Russ Rankin of hardcore band, Good Riddance.
The Stanley Cup flew into Cranbrook Saturday morning at 11:45, and was met by Scott Niedermayer and his friend Russ Rankin, a member of the California punk/hardcore band, Good Riddance. Russ is straight-edge: no alcohol, no drugs, no smoking and no meat. Yet, his body is a canvas of tattoos. The paradox is startling in a most refreshing way, especially in light of the friendship with Niedermayer, one of the best athletes on the Devils.

At 1:30 PM, Scott took the Stanley Cup to the Cranbrook Rex Plex, home of the Western Hockey League's Kootenay Ice. The public had been invited to visit Scott and get a free autograph and photo with the Stanley Cup. Local residents were thrilled and packed the arena for two and a half hours. "I'm very surprised but really pleased," Niedermayer said. "I mean, this is the third time I've brought the Cup home. Plus, a couple of the other Cranbrook boys have brought the Cup back and yet, the support is still unbelievable!"

Carol Niedermayer couldn't lose as a Stanley Cup Mom this spring. One of her two boys was going to proudly skate off with the silverware when Scott's Devils met Rob's Ducks in the Stanley Cup final.
Just after 4PM, Scott took the Cup over to his Mom's house. Carol Niedermayer was a little embarrassed about her notorious quote during the playoffs last spring. Carol, who faced the uncomfortable yet proud situation of having her sons face each other with the Stanley Cup on the line, had mentioned to a journalist that Scott had been fortunate enough to have won the Cup twice already and it would be nice to see Rob get the opportunity. The interview elicited wild response in New Jersey, and a mother's quote turned into a celebrated rallying point in the press. Carol, slightly irked, said, "I was just looking out for my boys. You want them both to enjoy the thrill of winning the Stanley Cup." She certainly wasn't playing favourites and is as thrilled that Scott and the Devils won the championship as a mother can be.

Scott then dropped over to his Dad's house, with the Stanley Cup in tow. Dr. Niedermayer had hosted a party with the Stanley Cup in 1995, and at the time, a number of neighbourhood children had their pictures taken with the Cup. These 'kids' are now eight years older; several inches taller and each has filled out into an adult, with many attending university now. Many of the faces in the older photos have morphed from gap-toothed, freckle-faced youngsters into beautiful, tall adults, and Scott was struck by the changes. "I'm feeling a little old," he admitted, and those around laughed. Scott would celebrate his thirtieth birthday with the Stanley Cup while he was back home in Cranbrook.

Scott and wife Lisa returned to Fort Steele, where they had been married a few years earlier, and rolled history back several decades when they took the Stanley Cup on the steam train.
Scott Niedermayer, with wife Lisa, returned to Fort Steele. It's a special spot for Scott and Lisa as that was where their wedding reception was held a few years earlier. Fort Steele is a pioneer village, reflecting back to the era when it was a vibrant town during the area's gold rush in the latter 1800's. But by the turn of the century, Fort Steele had become a ghost town. It has now been beautifully resuscitated and is an outstanding place to visit. Scott and Lisa climbed aboard the steam train with the Stanley Cup for a circuit of the town. "The Stanley Cup would've travelled by train back in the National Hockey League's early days, and I'll bet it hasn't been on a train in years," Scott mused, to the agreement of all. Just then, the train stopped on the platform, affording a stunning view of the river.

The group went back to Scott's mother's home to visit. Another one of Scott's pals arrived. Kevin is a player-agent and was at the Kootenay Ice training camp with a couple of prospects. The boys came with Kevin to Carol Niedermayer's home, and were thrilled to meet Scott, and to get their pictures taken with the Stanley Cup.

Niedermayer's visit to the firefighters working night and day to halt the spreading fires in B.C.'s interior proved a welcome respite for the weary and unheralded heroes.
Late Saturday afternoon, Scott grabbed the Stanley Cup. "I'm heading off to the fire camp, gang." It was time for a shift change, so Scott would be able to bring the Stanley Cup to a majority of the 400 firefighters. "They are having some pretty long days, some tough days, and if this will put a smile on their faces for a minute, that'll be good," Niedermayer mentioned. "That's tough work they're doing. They're working long days so we owe them a lot of thanks for the work that they're doing." The firefighters are exhausted. There are 750 fires burning in B.C.'s interior at this moment, and the work is not only tedious but critical to salvage British Columbia's wilderness. In the Kelowna area, fire destroyed 230 homes, and hundreds more were evacuated temporarily. Not far from Cranbrook, 175 families have been forced from their homes and a thousand more are on notice that evacuation may be necessary at short notice. British Columbia's premier, Gordon Campbell, has issued a state of emergency in the south-eastern part of the province.

The enthusiasm was contagious. The firefighters huddled around the Stanley Cup and grasped Scott's arm. "Thank you, man. This means the world to us," said one grizzled firefighting veteran. "Sometimes, we think we're here all on our own and it's amazing to know that our heroes remember us at critical times like this." The firefighter's eyes grew moist. "Thank you for thinking about us, Scott. We need a little cheering up right now." The men, soot and perspiration lining their faces, were delighted to get their photograph taken with Scott Niedermayer and the Stanley Cup. Tristan Powell, another firefighter, smiled and blurted, "I think it's great. We're pretty happy." Commander Pfannenschmidt talked of how the visit had given his men a much-needed boost in morale. "Scott's visit with the Stanley Cup is the talk of the town today, as it will be for the rest of these guys' lives!" Just then, a gigantic helicopter landed nearby, ready to re-load with chemical retardant to douse the inferno.

At eight o'clock in the evening, Scott thanked the boys for their exemplary work in helping save the area in which he was raised. "Hey, thank you guys so much for all your tireless work. You guys are the heroes, not me!" With that, Scott and Lisa took the Cup on the road to their home. It's twenty minutes west of Crescent on Kootenay Lake. As they drove, you could see the fires. Their home is surrounded by mountains and there are distinct patches of flame visible from the road leading to their home. It is disconcerting. But in addition, the smell of fire hangs in the air. If you didn't know the circumstances, you'd think leaves were being burned nearby, or that there was a campfire in the area. But between the acrid aroma of fire and the sight of flames, the situation is disconcerting.

'Camp Niedermayer,' as Russ from Good Riddance calls the couple's home, is neither modest nor rustic. In fact, thirty-nine friends will comfortably crash there for the night as the Niedermayer's Stanley Cup celebration in the Cranbrook area continues.

Sunday morning arrived, and Scott and Lisa and their friends opened the curtains on a beautiful day. "Wow, look at those clouds," said Mike, one of the many friends visiting, but Scott corrected him. "Mike, that's smoke from the forest fires." It's Scott's thirtieth birthday, and not only is he celebrating with the people that mean the most to him, he's celebrating with the Stanley Cup. Life is good.

Scott ponders New Jersey's upcoming season as he relaxes on Kootenay Lake.
It's a fantastic picture postcard brought to life. Scott and Lisa and their friends with the Stanley Cup amidst nature's immense beauty — stunning mountains, a pristine beach and gorgeous, blue Kootenay Lake. The group decided to have some fun in the water. Scott uncovered his jet ski, and several took turns roaring over the water. Others sailed, some kayaked and a handful tried wakeboarding. A few others scrambled up the nearby cliff and dove into the lake. It was daunting to the uninitiated, but a little challenging from the gang and most jump off the thirty-five foot cliff into the refreshing water below.

Back at the house, a banner had been hung while they were on the water. It read, 'HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY! HOME OF SCOTT NIEDERMAYER, STANLEY CUP CHAMPION 1995, 2000 AND 2003!' Scott insisted on a group picture, and all forty or so friends huddled together, the mountain serving as a sensational backdrop.

Rob Niedermayer, Scott's brother, was a big part of the proceedings all day long. Scott and Rob are very close. In fact, Rob is nicknamed 'Cliff' and Scott 'Norm' after the friends on 'Cheers.' The last time brothers had faced each other in a Stanley Cup final was 1946 when Kenny Reardon of the Canadiens was challenged by his brother Terry of the Boston Bruins. In every Stanley Cup final, there has to be a winner, and with that, someone has to lose. Both Niedermayer boys are fierce competitors, and both had a super playoff this past spring. Both Scott and Rob desperately wanted to win, but although Scott's Devils triumphed, Rob and his Mighty Ducks had nothing to be ashamed of.

Scott and Rob handed each guest a specially-designed baseball cap. On one side, the Devils' logo was stitched in with 'Scott' and his Number 27. On the other side, the Ducks' logo was embroidered into the cap with 'Rob' and his Number 44. On the back, 'Niedermayer' was stitched. Both brothers signed each of the hats for their friends. Many wanted photographs of Scott and Rob together, and the brothers were only too happy to oblige.

Inside, Rosa, a friend of the family, prepared pasta and salads for the return of the water warriors. Scott was surprised to hear the group start singing 'Happy Birthday,' and a cake shaped like a '30' was carried out (no, it wasn't Devil's food cake!). Scott blew out all thirty candles with relative ease and everyone grabbed a plate with a slice of cake and a generous scoop of ice cream. Then, the star defenseman was brought into a room. The Stanley Cup was sitting on a table surrounded by gifts. Scott was embarrassed, but received lovely presents from his wonderful friends. The birthday boy received a camera and a beautiful painting among a number of superb presents. "Hey Norm, open mine next," Rob said to Scott. "Hmm, I wonder what it is," Scott laughed, as he unwrapped a new golf club. "Cliff, why are you giving me a golf club? You're the one who needed it this year," Scott howled, while everybody joined in the laughter. Rob replied, "Just because you beat me out on the ice once doesn't make you a champion out on the links!"

After dinner, everyone settled around the Stanley Cup and talked about the history and tradition of hockey's most precious award. Various friends pointed out names on the Cup, and although he's a three-time winner, it was obvious that Scott felt humbled being in the same championship company as some of the acknowledged greats of the game. The conversation carried on, unhurried and uninterrupted, until oh-my-God o'clock. "It's been a fabulous day, you guys," Scott said, rubbing his eyes. "Man, I am so lucky. I've got great friends, a great family and I'm so lucky to have been able to share my birthday and the Stanley Cup with all of you." One of the pals punctuated Scott's comments, saying, "This is our third celebration with you, Scott, and each time you outdo yourself. On behalf of all of us, happy birthday and thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now go out this year and win this Cup again so we can all meet again next summer!"

On Monday, the Stanley Cup Journal will join Turner Stevenson for his celebrations in both Prince George, BC and in Seattle.

Kevin Shea is looking forward to the hockey season from his home in Toronto.

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