ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -Scott Niedermayer is certain about only one thing in his hockey future - he won't be on the ice when the Anaheim Ducks open camp next week.
The decision whether or not to retire is proving to be more difficult.
"It's sort of unfortunate that this decision has taken this long for me to make," the 34-year-old defenseman said Thursday at a news conference. "It's definitely become harder than I had envisioned.
"The last thing I want is for it to be a distraction to the work and the team that's going to be hitting the ice. Brian (Ducks general manager Brian Burke) has been very good at allowing me this time. I've made it clear to him where I'm at and the fact I don't have an answer whether I'll be playing this year or not."
The Ducks' captain did not rule out the possibility of joining the team during the season, and said he was out of shape now and would need about four weeks to get in condition.
Niedermayer got to hoist the Stanley Cup for the fourth time earlier this year, and won his first Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP. The NHL title was the first for the Ducks, but Niedermayer had played on three Cup champions with New Jersey before coming to Anaheim in 2005.
One of the big reasons he chose the Ducks was so he could play with his brother, Rob. Scott said he believes his younger brother wants him to keep playing but, like most of Scott's friends, family and other players have told him, the decision is up to him.
"There is no question I'm going to miss a lot of things about the game if I retire. That's why the decision is as difficult as it is," he said. "There are things on both sides of the question that are appealing to me; obviously playing with the group of guys that I played here with the last two years.
"It's a great group of guys, coming off the year we had. It's a huge challenge to come back and defend that (Stanley Cup title)."
Niedermayer has two years and $13.5 million left on his contract. Since he will not report for the start of camp Tuesday, the Ducks will suspend him.
Niedermayer, who signed as a free agent with Anaheim in 2005, won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman during the 2003-04 season with New Jersey.