Ducks' Scott Niedermayer retires after 18 seasons

ANAHEIM (Reuters) - Scott Niedermayer, who won four Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold medals, retired Tuesday after an 18-season career in the National Hockey League.

The 36-year-old, who was the third overall draft pick of the New Jersey Devils in 1991, won the James Norris Trophy in 2004 as the league's best defenseman and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2007 as the most valuable player in the playoffs.

"It was a tough decision, but after plenty of reflection I am here to announce that I am going to retire from professional hockey," the Anaheim Ducks captain told a news conference.

"I will miss showing up at the rink each morning with a great group of guys that play this game that I have played and that has been a huge part of my life for a long time."

When asked to name the top three moments of his career, he barely needed a moment to think.

Niedermayer quickly listed winning his first Stanley Cup in 1995, winning a Stanley Cup with his brother Rob in 2007 and winning an Olympic gold medal for Canada on home soil earlier this year as his top three.

"I've been very lucky to experience so many great things," said Niedermayer. "It's humbling to say I have these number of things to pick from because there have been many people that you need to rely on to accomplish those things and I've been surrounded by a lot of great people."

Niedermayer, who contemplated retirement a few years ago, spent the last five seasons in Anaheim after signing with the Ducks as a free agent.

He finished his career with 172 goals and 568 assists, and is the highest scoring defenseman for the New Jersey and Anaheim franchises.

(Writing by Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)