Video of Niedermayer Comments Brian Burke Comments
The Ducks made it official today, announcing that defenseman Scott Niedermayer will return to the team for 2008-09 NHL season.
“It’s no secret what Scotty has meant to this organization over the past three years,” said Executive Vice President/General Manager Brian Burke. “Needless to say, we are thrilled he’s returning to play for the upcoming season.”
Niedermayer has won four Stanley Cup championships and is the only player in hockey history to have won a Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold Medal, World Championship, World Cup, Memorial Cup and World Junior title. He helped lead the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup title in 2007, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs.
A native of Cranbrook, British Columbia, Niedermayer has appeared in 209 games with Anaheim since signing as a free agent on Aug. 4, 2005, collecting 36-121=157 points with a +12 rating and 198 penalty minutes (PIM). A James Norris Trophy winner as the most valuable defenseman in 2004, the 34-year-old blueliner has been named to five NHL All-Star teams during his 17-year career. Since making his NHL debut in 1991-92, Niedermayer has scored 148-485=633 points with a +184 rating and 676 PIM in 1,101 career NHL games.
While his prolonged retirement decision in 2007-08 limited Niedermayer to just 48 games played, the 34-year-old was named to his fifth All-Star Game while accumulating 25 points on the year. From the time of his return through the end of the regular season, the 15-year veteran guided the Ducks to the best record in the NHL (32-12-4).
“I had a great time last season after returning to the team,” said Niedermayer. “I’m excited about having another opportunity to win, and fully expect this team to be competing for another Stanley Cup next spring."
Niedermayer spoke to the media via conference call Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript:
I guess it’s no secret I’ve decided to come back and play next season. I’m definitely looking forward to that. I had a lot of fun in my shortened year last year. Obviously, I’m getting a little better at making these decisions quicker. I’m looking forward to the season starting.
On if his decision making process differed from last year:
It really wasn’t different. I’ve gone through everything. I’ve gone over this for a long time, four or five months last year and two months now. There really wasn’t anything different in the decision. I guess after a short year and a shorter playoff run, I definitely physically and mentally feel ready to go, a lot more energized. That’s probably a big difference this year as opposed to last year.
On if he’s talked to Teemu Selanne:
I talked to him a couple of times before I made my final decision. I think he’s back in Finland now. I just want him to make the right decision for him personally and really not interfere with that. I’m sure he will do that and whatever it is we will respect it and support it.
On the birth of his fourth son, Luke, last Friday:
We added another boy to our collection. They’re at home now doing well, so that’s great.
On the importance of making the decision prior to July 1:
The sooner the better definitely for the team to move forward and address whatever needs to be addressed. Even for myself, to be honest in a selfish way, make a decision so that I’m not waking up every day not knowing what I’m going to do next week or the week after. Now I know I need to get working out, get in shape and get ready to play some hockey. I’m excited about that.
On when he made his decision to return:
I probably have been sitting on this decision for a little bit. It’s been good just to see how I felt after making the decision, committing to it personally and just let a little time pass after that. It felt like the right decision. I’m excited to get back playing some hockey with the guys we have in our room.
On the biggest factor that led to his return:
I think when I first started thinking about retiring last year after we won the Stanley Cup, I maybe didn’t appreciate some of the things that would make it difficult to walk away from the game, some of the things that I’ve enjoyed for a long time playing this great sport. Something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was six years old. I have a little different perspective on it. I think physically and mentally I definitely feel a lot fresher right now than I did a year ago at this time. I think that’s a big change as well.
On what he expects the mood of the team to be starting with training camp:
It’s different. We’re fresher. We’re energized. We have the excitement to get back on the ice as soon as possible whereas after you’ve played a long playoffs, a long season, you’re worn down and maybe you don’t have as much in the tank. That’s a big challenge of returning after a long season like that. It’s a difficult situation to be in. I think how our season went, finishing with over 100 points, we managed to do pretty well there. There was a little disappointment in the playoffs. That’s the beauty of pro sports. The next year rolls around. You have another opportunity to try and go out and achieve your goal. I think with the group of guys we have our goal really hasn’t changed. I think we’ll all be looking forward to that challenge and the opportunity that we have.
On thinking about how his decision could lead to teammates being traded:
Unfortunately with the CBA and the salary cap, that’s going to happen. I guess the way I looked at it and talking with Brian and other people, there are going to be changes one way or another. Whether I came back or not, things are going to change for different reasons. I really am not going to take too much responsibility. At the same time, they are teammates and friends. When anybody gets traded or things happen like that, you can be disappointed. It was something I thought about, but like I said this is professional sports and that is what happens.
On if the way last season ended influenced his decision to return:
I never really had thought about or worried a lot about finishing my career a certain way. That’s pretty difficult to orchestrate or to have work out just how you’d like it. I don’t really think a lot about that. I definitely feel differently right now, as far as the excitement and energy to get back on the ice. I think that’s a big difference.
On how strongly he considered retirement this time around:
I suppose when I made the decision to come back last year in the fall, I probably thought that that was going to be my last season. I hadn’t at that point really thought a whole lot about it. Once the season was underway, I enjoyed playing. We had our focus as a team to try and get into the playoffs and then do some good things there, so I never really thought a lot about it. I probably thought less about it this summer than I did last, to be honest, that I was going retire. I was evaluating a little bit more and just moving forward to make another decision.
On if finishing out his contract played into his decision:
Yeah, a little bit. I thought about that last time. You make a commitment and those things are important. You make a commitment to play four years and I suppose I did in a lot of ways feel like I should do that. It was one small part in it. There were a lot of things that went into my decision. I’m happy I have a decision made and to be moving forward. As long as I’ve been here it’s been a fun place to play and a great group of guys. I’m expecting the same thing next year, to come in to a great team and have a lot of fun and try to win as many games as we can.
On if the 2008-09 season will be his last in the NHL:
If I had to place a guess, I would say yes, but I’ve been wrong before in my thinking. That could change. If I had to sort of make a decision on that now, I would say, yeah this will probably be it.
On how much the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver factored into his decision:
That hasn’t really come into my thought process a whole lot. I now know that it’s going to a lot more. Yeah, it’s a big thing obviously. I’ve only played in the one Olympics and it was a great experience, something I wouldn’t trade for anything. Being a part of Team Canada and representing your country at the Olympics, it was a great experience. To be able to something like that in your home province in your home country would be even better. It would be a great opportunity, but there are a lot of other things I’m going to think about. I haven’t really even evaluated what I’m going to do beyond this year. Maybe I am getting a little better at making these decisions, so when it comes time to make the next one, hopefully I can get right to it and make the right one again.
On the status of his brother, Rob:
He went home (to British Columbia) about three weeks ago. I’ve asked him a few times and he says he feels pretty good. I guess once you get on the ice and start getting bumped around a little bit then the answer will be a little clearer. I think as of right now, he’s pretty happy with how he feels and hopefully he’s 100 percent. He definitely has had a few bumps in his career and it’s definitely something that he thinks about I’m sure.
Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Burke also spoke to reporters about Niedermayer's return:
We believed that Scott would play. We have been meeting with season ticket holders the last couple of nights and I told them that I hoped and thought he would. I’m not surprised, but obviously pleased. This is a great player. We’re a better team this afternoon than we were this morning. Yeah, I’m happy. A manager always likes news like that. This is good news. There is no other way to look at this. We are a better hockey club this afternoon than we were this morning. He’s an important player on our team and a leader on our team. It’s great news.
On if he had any sort of inkling on what Niedermayer’s decision would be:
He was very careful. He’s very guarded, so no, my sense that he might play was more a hunch than anything.
On how he was informed by Niedermayer of his decision:
I said to him ‘Look we’ll sit down today (Thursday)’. Then, I had to go pick up my daughter who is coming in to visit for a few days. I had to leave before Scott could get here, so we just talked on the phone. I sat down with him just a few minutes ago, but the actually timing was this morning. We spoke on the phone and he said ‘I’m going to play’, so I said ‘That’s great news’. I talked to him at 10:01 this morning.
On the team captaincy for next year:
That’s a coaching decision. Randy usually let’s me know what he’s going to do. That’s up to the coach. I think we’re blessed that we’ve got a good leadership group here. I think whatever the coach does with Cs and As will work out fine.
On if he is going to have to make moves to fit within the salary cap:
Yes, at some point we will. To me, all of that’s Plan B. In other words, you get a player back like Scotty, if it causes repercussions, that is all Plan B. Plan A is you say, 'great', and then Plan B is you figure out how to make the money work.
On Teemu Selanne:
It’s just like last year. We’re looking for Teemu on a milk carton. Nobody has seen him. He’s on his own time. He’s in Helsinki. I haven’t talked to him.
On if he can keep the defense intact considering the salary cap:
Yeah, but that could be a disingenuous answer. Could I mathematically move people up front and keep my "D" together, the answer to that question is yes. Is that the best way to proceed? I don’t know. We got this news two or three hours ago and we’re trying to react to it and figure out what’s the next step. The answer is yes, but I don’t want to be misleading -- that doesn’t mean we’re going to. You want me to tell you who’s going and I don’t know.