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Niedermayer to play in 2009-10

Friday, 06.26.2009 / 9:06 PM / News

By Eric Stephens - NHL.com Correspondent

Scott Niedermayer isn't ready to hang up his skates just yet.

With a Draft Day deadline imposed in part by Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray hanging over him, the four-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman confirmed on Friday that he would play in 2009-10.

In recent years, Niedermayer has weighed thoughts of retirement. The former Norris Trophy winner missed the first 2 1/2 months of the 2007-08 season before returning to the Ducks in mid-December. He played all 82 games in 2008-09 and had 14 goals and 45 assists for 59 points, then added 3 goals and 10 points in 13 playoff games as the Ducks advanced to the second round before losing to Detroit in seven games.

"I think my main reason is probably just the appreciation that I have and what I get out of competing," he said of his decision to play next season. "It's something that I've done a long time. The closer I've gotten to the end, the more I seem to appreciate it."

Niedermayer, 35, has played 16 seasons, the last four in Anaheim. The Ducks' captain and 2007 Conn Smythe Trophy winner is a free agent but indicated Friday that he figures to begin talks with the team on a new contract.

Since the Ducks lost to the Red Wings in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, Murray has been clear in wanting a decision from his star, calling the defenseman "irreplaceable" and stating that he is the key to his off-season plans.

"It was important for the team obviously to move forward at some point," Niedermayer said. "The draft is a time when things happen. The team needs to be working on a plan for next season.

"They requested that I come up with sort of a step forward as soon as possible. And I did not want to be bogged down. I'm happy that I made this decision."

Niedermayer understood that his decision to return might set off a chain reaction of events in Anaheim, given that the club will likely be pressed up against the $56.8-million payroll next season and need to retain James Wisniewski and, perhaps, Francois Beauchemin, on the blue line.

The chain reaction Friday night began when the Ducks traded Chris Pronger to Philadelphia for forward Joffrey Lupul, defenseman Luca Sbisa and the Flyers' first-round picks in 2009 and 2010.

Niedermayer's decisions in the past have also affected the Ducks. In 2007, Anaheim had to trade productive center Andy McDonald to St. Louis in order to fit the defenseman under the cap after he ended his sabbatical.

"Obviously Bob is in charge and makes the decisions on personnel," Niedermayer said, alluding to the Pronger trade. "You hate to see a good teammate and a good friend move on. But I guess it's part of the game. If I didn't come back, obviously certain things may or may not have happened."

"I think my main reason is probably just the appreciation that I have and what I get out of competing.  It's something that I've done a long time. The closer I've gotten to the end, the more I seem to appreciate it.." -- Scott Niedermayer on decision to play next season

Niedermayer said he has not begun contract negotiations with any team but indicated he would begin with the Ducks and figures to have agent Kevin Epp start talking with Murray soon about a deal.

After finishing the four-year, $27-million contract he signed with the Ducks in the summer of 2005, Niedermayer told NHL.com on Friday that he would likely seek a one-year deal.

"I really want to talk to Bob and just see where he wants to be at," he said. "It's hard for me to make a comment before I even know the game plan for the team. I want to talk to him and see what he wants to do."

Niedermayer said he hasn't made a final decision on playing for Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the past, he's said he is intrigued with the possibility, especially given that the Games will be in Vancouver, near his off-season home in Cranbrook, British Columbia.

"That's obviously something that would be a thrill," he said. "Do I know if I'll be a part of that? No. A lot of time has to pass before that. That's out of my hands.

"I'll just go out and do my best and have fun competing in the NHL. If that does come about, I'll be happy to go."
 


 

I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game