Scott Niedermayer is back for another season, and this time maybe his last in the NHL.
"If I had to place a guess, I would say yes," the Anaheim Ducks star said Thursday after announcing his return. "I've been wrong before, I guess, in my thinking. "But if I had to make a decision on that now, I would say this will probably be it."
The Ducks will take next season and call it a win. They are thrilled to get the star blue-liner back into their fold.
"It's no secret what Scotty has meant to this organization over the past three years," said Ducks GM Brian Burke.
This time, Niedermayer was able to give Burke a decision before the opening of July 1 free agency, giving the Ducks an important edge now in deciding what they have to do moving forward. They now know they have Niedermayer counting $6.75 million against the salary cap next season, the last year of his contract.
The 34-year-old Niedermayer waited until December last season to come back after winning the Stanley Cup in June. This time the decision came quicker and Niedermayer waited on it just a bit to make sure.
"I've probably been sitting on this decision for a little bit and it's been good just to see how I felt after committing to it personally," Niedermayer said on a conference call. "I let a little time pass after that and it felt like the right decision.
"I'm excited to get back playing some hockey with the guys we have in our room."
Niedermayer, a Norris Trophy winner in 2004 and Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 2007, had 25 points (8-17) in 48 games last season. He added two assists in a six-game, first-round playoff loss to the Dallas Stars.
"I had a lot of fun in my short year last year," said Niedermayer, whose wife Lisa gave birth to child No. 4 last Friday. "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."
Now the question is whether unrestricted free-agent winger Teemu Selanne will also return for another season.
"I talked to him a couple of times before I made my final decision," said Niedermayer. "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."
While Niedermayer said next season will probably be his last, there are those who believe he's got the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver in the back of his mind. But the native of Cranbrook, B.C., played it coy Thursday when asked about that possibility.
"That hasn't really come into my thought process a whole lot and I now know that it's going to a lot more going forward," said Niedermayer. "Yeah, it's a big thing obviously. I've only played in the one Olympics (2002) and it was a great experience, something I wouldn't trade for anything, being part of Team Canada.
"To be able to do something like that in your home province and your home country would be even better. It would be a great opportunity but there's a lot of other things to think about before then. I really haven't evaluated what I'm going to do beyond this year."
Niedermayer said he now realizes how much he would have missed the game had he retired last summer.
"When I first started to think about retiring after winning the Stanley Cup last year, 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 in playing this great sport," he said. "A little different perspective on it now."