Jim Niekamp

Shot blocking defenseman Jim Niekamp, a native of Detroit, started out playing hockey in Motown's recreation leagues. He then moved on to play his junior hockey for St.Jerome Alouettes and Hamilton Red Wings. He spent four seasons in the minor leagues (IHL,CHL and AHL) before getting his first taste of NHL action with his home team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Jim played 24 games with Detroit in 1970-71 recording two assists. He then had a 5 game stint with Detroit the following season. These 29 games was the only NHL action that he saw during his career. Jim was bound for the minor leagues but got saved by the WHA. The Los Angeles Sharks selected him in the WHA General Player Draft in 1972. Jim enjoyed five seasons in the WHA with the Sharks and Phoenix Roadrunners.

Although he had a very fine shot he never scored more than 7 goals in a season. Jim's strongest asset was without a doubt his ability to block shots. Many believed that if WHA would have had shot blocking as an official stat that Jim would be at the top every year. Jim's teammate in Phoenix, goalie Jack Norris also agreed that Jim was a great shotblocker.

"He's really got it perfected. Lots of guys try to do it and they stop a few with their legs. Jimmy doesn't seem to have any fear at all. He'll take it in the midsection, the chest, anywhere. If he starts down on a shot, he can get up quickly. And if he goes down, he always freezes the puck. He doesn't screen out a goaltender. In fact, he's one of the reasons the shots against us aren't higher. He's blocking between five and ten shots every game."

Jim started out as a winger when he was a youngster but as soon as he shifted to defense his great shot blocking came automatically. He in fact even helped develop a new piece of protective equipment that helped prevent injuries when blocking shots. It was a light foam-rubber pad that covered a player's chest and took out the sting out of blocking a shot with the upper body. The equipment was then manufactured by Cooper in Canada and KOHO in Finland.

Jim's last professional season came in 1977-78 when he played for the Phoenix Roadrunners in the PHL (Pacific Hockey League). Besides the 29 NHL games he also played 383 WHA games, scoring 16 goals and 96 points for 112 points.

By the way - Jim Niekamp's nickname was "Shitter." I do not know the story behind the nickname. In fact, I'm not sure I want to know.


Barbara,  1:25 PM  

Jim Niekamp was my son, Jim's hero when Niekamp played for the Phoenix Roadrunners. My Jim was a young wing man, small but with great gusto. Neikamp taught him how to take down players twice his size. My Jim learned to change directions, to slow down, speed up - generally outwit opponents. He credited attending the summer camps offered by the Roadrunner and Jim Neikamp's personal attention to his love of the sport. For a kid growing up in the desert, he admired his mentor immensely.

My Jim died almost ten years ago (2003) at age 35. His love of hockey, his trophies and memories of Jim Neikamp's kindness' live on in the heart of all who love our Jim still.

Thanks for the memories! Jim's Mom

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