The twist in Rob Niedermayer as a Devil and more

September, 25, 2009

Who can the forget the handshake line at the end of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals after Scott Niedermayer's New Jersey Devils edged out brother Rob Niedermayer's Anaheim Ducks in seven games.

Six years later, those uniforms have switched.

"It is pretty ironic, for sure," Rob Niedermayer told on Friday after signing a one-year, $1 million deal with the Devils.

Scott, of course, remains a Duck. There was talk through the grapevine that Rob Niedermayer left Anaheim in part because he no longer saw eye to eye with Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, and Rob confirmed that Friday.

"I think we both probably mutually agreed that it was probably best if I move on," he said. "I'm pretty happy to be going to New Jersey right now. I think it's a real good fit."

There had been nibbles from European teams, but the Devils came calling just in time. New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello felt a need to add a center after losing Patrik Elias (who was slated to play center this season) for four to six weeks after the Czech star needed groin surgery Sept. 15.

"With Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus and now Robbie, that gives us three pretty-good-sized center ice men," Lamoriello told "And when Patrik comes back, Jacques [Lemaire] will have a choice whether he wants to put him at center or leave him on the wing."

And really, Niedermayer finally replaces the loss of checking center John Madden, who signed with Chicago in July.

"Rob has a bit more size; he can play in that situation, he kills penalties," Lamoriello said. "And the thing I like about him is that there's an edge to his game."

Having to wait until late September to find a job wasn't an ideal offseason for the 34-year-old Niedermayer, an accomplished two-way player with a Cup ring from the 2007 Ducks.

"Definitely, it was a pretty slow summer, it was for a lot of people, and yeah it was tough," Niedermayer said. "But I'm happy how things worked in the end."

Cloutier update
You might think Dan Cloutier's comeback attempt ended Thursday when the Detroit Red Wings cut him, but he feels quite the opposite. His tryout with the Wings proved to him that he could still compete in goal at the NHL level after missing most of two years with hip problems that have required a few surgeries.

"I wasn't sure going into this camp, to be honest with you," Cloutier told on Friday. "I was injured for the past three years. But after this camp, I feel great both physically and mentally. I've got that fire again."

He knew the odds of making the Wings.

"I've been around, I know how it works. I knew everybody was under contract and it would be difficult to make the team," Cloutier said. "I just wanted to go there and see if I still had it and see how my body would react for a training camp. It's one thing to work out two or three times a week, but this was a real test. The last six or seven days, I felt really good. I got an opportunity to play half a game in New York, and I did well [he didn't allow a goal]. And I surprisingly felt good."

But Wings GM Ken Holland still had to cut him. Jimmy Howard is under contract, and it was always the plan for him to back up Chris Osgood this season. Still, Holland told via e-mail Friday that Cloutier "got better as it went along. He looked pretty good."

"I had a meeting with Kenny, and he said, 'You surprised us, the second half of the camp, you were real good,'" Cloutier said. "'The guys like you, and the coaching staff like the way you compete. But it's just a numbers game.'"

So now what? Cloutier isn't sure.

"There's a few teams in Europe that want to see what decision I will make," he said. "But at the same time, once you sign in Europe, you're kind of finished in terms of coming back to the NHL [this season]. So I spoke to my agent, and he suggested I take a few days to think it over. I've got a 20-month-old daughter and maybe you don't want to move across the world to play hockey. I don't know. I've got to think about it the next few days and do what's best."

Gretzky and Hockey Canada
Wayne Gretzky no longer has his full-time gig in Phoenix, but it's worth noting he remains an adviser to Canada's Olympic team.

"His role hasn't changed," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson told on Friday. "We'll continue to talk. Hopefully he'll continue to help us when needed, and if he thinks there's something we should be looking at, we'll encourage him to get involved. So nothing really has changed. Will there be more activity? Time will tell."

But Gretzky has stayed out of the Olympic limelight this time around after being front and center in 2002 and 2006. Out of respect for Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman, Gretzky has kept a low profile.

"It's Steve's team," Nicholson said. "Wayne is certainly on board with that. That's not going to change. Can Steve reach out more freely now to Wayne? Certainly. Just another great resource for Team Canada."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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