Scott Niedermayer spoke to reporters for 30 minutes today at the Ducks practice facility, Anaheim ICE, confirming what he told reporters yesterday: that he is still undecided on retirement, but he will definitely miss the start of training camp should he decide to return. Ducks training camp starts next Tuesday, Sept. 11.
"I wish I had a decision right now," said Niedermayer, clad in a green polo shirt with one of his young sons sitting a few feet away. "My preference would be to know right now and to start and be ready to go with the rest of the guys. It's not looking like that might happen, so we go to Plan B and the second best option, which is to come to a decision as quickly as possible. I don't want to drag this out any longer than I have to. The team has enough to worry about.
"It’s unfortunate that the decision has taken this long for me to make. I guess it’s definitely become harder than I envisioned. The last thing I want is to be a distraction to the team. Brian has been very good in allowing me the time. I haven’t been asked to make it official. Hopefully, once things get rolling, I’ll get a better feeling if I want to be on the ice or not."
Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Brian Burke spoke to media via conference call about the Niedermayer situation:
There are two key points that I would like to communicate today. One is there seems to be this notion that somehow Scotty’s difficulty with this decision is inconveniencing us and hurting his teammates. We’re encouraging him taking his time. The one phone call we don’t want to get, we haven’t gotten, and that’s “I’m retiring.” For people to think we’re being inconvenienced or held hostage, it’s garbage.
I don’t want to create false hope that Scott is going to play a partial season. That seems to be a conjecture that people are reaching. He’s told me that’s not what he’s contemplating. I don’t want to sell one ticket to someone who think Scotty Niedermayer is coming back and I don’t want our players to think that. Right now we’re starting without him. If he wants to come back, that would be great news. It’s not a foregone conclusion that he’s playing a partial season.
Camp opens next week, and if the guy is not there, I can’t worry about him. Our team has to prepare with the people who show up and lace their skates.
The two key points are, I want the fans to understand this player has our backing. This is not inconveniencing us. Every player I’ve talked to has said, whenever he decides to show up, it’s a boost.
He talked for 30 minutes to the media today and these were the three points he made:
- I am not prepared to open this season at this point in time.
- I am not prepared to retire.
- I am not contemplating a partial season at this point.
Until he says, “I’m hanging them up,” it’s good news for us.
He will be suspended if he does not report to camp. He’s made it clear he’s not going to, and he will be suspended. I want our fans to understand that. I know some people might say, “How can you do that to someone like that?” We don’t have a choice if we want that money to come off the salary camp. Unless or until he decides to return, that money will come off the salary cap at that time. I will have more precise information for you next week because [Assistant General Manager] David McNab is out of the office due to the death of his father [Max].
There is a provision where you can fine a player for missing training camp as well. Certainly it’s not our intention to do so, but the league might require us to. If they don’t require us to, we will not.
It was only yesterday Scott told me he wouldn’t be at camp, so I said you have to tell the media.
Would I be this patient with a lesser player? I hope I would be. We like to think one set of rules apply, but I also don’t like not being frank. This is a special player, and it’s a player who has a leadership role on our team. He’s been here two years and we’ve played seven playoff rounds.
If your kid runs away from home, do you ever really close the door? No, that door’s always open and this is the same thing. Are we being patient? Yes. Does that make us good people or does it make us smart businessmen? This guy is worth a lot of trouble.