Ducks confirm Niedermayer's return
TSN.ca Staff with files from The Canadian Press
12/5/2007 11:59:42 PM
The Anaheim Ducks made it official Wednesday as the team announced that Scott Niedermayer would return for the remainder of the season.
The announcement, made prior to the Ducks game against the Buffalo Sabres, ended weeks of speculation surrounding the four-time Stanley Cup champion's pseudo-retirement.
"We are obviously very pleased that Scotty has chosen to come back and play," said Executive Vice President/General Manager Brian Burke. "He earned the right to take time in making a decision, one that was clearly difficult for him."
The three-time all-star has not played this season after capturing the Conn Smythe trophy last season while helping lead the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. He has been under suspension by the team after failing to report to Ducks training camp as he has mulled retirement.
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"I'm excited to be rejoining my teammates and getting back on the ice," said Niedermayer. "I would like to thank the Samuelis, Brian Burke and especially my teammates for their patience while I wrestled with this very difficult decision."
The 34-year old Niedermayer lead all defencemen in scoring last season with 15 goals, and 69 points in 79 games. He was a finalist for the Norris trophy while setting career highs in goals, assists and points. He also played in the All-Star game.
Niedermayer had been skating for the past few weeks with former team mates Travis Green and Jeff Friesen. Niedermayer is under contract with the Ducks until 2009. If the former returned, he would be paid about $4 million of his $6.75-million salary this season.
Niedermayer will skate tomorrow at the Ducks' practice facility on Thursday morning and work out with strength coach Sean Skahan until the Ducks return from a three-game road trip. Then he'll begin practising with the team.
"The player owes us, in this case, 21 days of training camp. But it's our discretion what number of days of that 21 that the player has to fulfill," Burke said. "Scotty's status does not change. He is still a suspended player, and is not a roster player until we say he is. We'll see how his fitness levels are and then we'll make a decision. Given his conditioning fanaticism, my guess is we're looking at seven to 10 days and we'll see him in a game next week."
The return of the Ducks' former Captain would be a big boost to a team that is currently treading water in the Western Conference. The Ducks currently sit 11th in the West and out of the playoff picture. In 1,053 career games split between the Devils and Ducks, Niedermayer has 140 goals and 608 points.
"Getting news like this and adding someone like that can be a huge boost to our confidence and our mental awareness, whatever you want to call it," Ducks defenceman Sean O'Donnell told THE CANADIAN PRESS. "We welcome him back with open arms. Anything we can do to make our team better."
The smooth-skating blueliner was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman in 2003-04 and captured three Stanley Cups in 12 seasons with the New Jersey Devils before joining Anaheim as a free agent in 2005.
The future Hall of Famer has captured every major hockey title there is to win - the Memorial Cup, world junior championship, world championship, Olympic gold, World Cup of Hockey and the Stanley Cup.