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Niedermayer puts retirement on hold, back to Ducks @NHLdotcom

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -Anaheim Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer is looking forward to arriving at work on time next season.

Niedermayer informed Ducks GM Brian Burke on Thursday that he will fulfill the final year of his contract and skate with the team during the 2008-2009 season.

The 34-year-old Niedermayer missed the first two months of last season while contemplating retirement after the team won the Stanley Cup - and he was named the playoffs MVP - in June 2007.

Although he returned to play in December, Niedermayer initially remained unsure as to his playing status for next season following the Ducks' elimination in the opening round of the playoffs by the Dallas Stars in April.

He erased any doubts Thursday.

"I guess after a shorter year and shorter playoff run I definitely feel physically and mentally ready to go," Niedermayer said. "I'm happy to have a decision made and to be moving forward."

Having gone through a prolonged assessment of his desire to play last year, Niedermayer found the process to be easier this year.

"I have a different perspective," said Niedermayer, who will entering his 17th NHL season. "When I first started thinking about retiring last year when we won the Stanley Cup, I maybe didn't appreciate some of things that would make it difficult to be away from a game that I have enjoyed playing for a long time."

Niedermayer signed a four-year contract with the Ducks on August 4, 2005, largely to be able to skate with his brother, Rob, a forward on the team. The Ducks have advanced to the playoffs each of the three seasons since Scott arrived in Anaheim.

"He's an important player on our team and a leader on our team, this is great news," Burke said.

The return of Niedermayer and his $6.75 million contract could create salary cap issues for the Ducks, who finished just $21,000 under the cap last season and still hope to re-sign leading goal scorer Corey Perry. But Burke says it's a problem he's glad to have.

"To me, if you get a player back like Scottie and it causes repercussions, that's all plan B," explained Burke. "Plan A is you say that's great, plan B is you figure out how to make the money work."

Niedermayer has 633 points (148 goals, 485 assists) in 1,101 NHL games since entering the league in 1992. He won the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman in 2004 and will now set his sights on winning the Stanley Cup for the fifth time in his career.

"I'm excited to get back playing some hockey with the guys we have in the room," Niedermayer said.

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