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Scott Niedermayer will rejoin Ducks, delay retirement

NHL.com @NHL

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -NHL playoffs MVP Scott Niedermayer will rejoin the Anaheim Ducks after sitting out the first 28 games of the season. The defending Stanley Cup champions are hoping Teemu Selanne will follow suit.

Ducks general manager Brian Burke announced Niedermayer's decision at a news conference a half-hour before Wednesday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres.

The 34-year-old defenseman had taken time off to decide whether he wanted to retire. He wasn't at the arena for the announcement.

"We view it as a very important day for us," Burke said. "We respect the battle that Scotty has fought over the decision right from the get-go. We're obviously thrilled."

Niedermayer had two years and $13.5 million remaining on his contract. According to league rules, the Ducks suspended him without pay because he did not report to training camp.

Burke and the rest of the team's management said they were not disturbed that Niedermayer and Selanne took the time off.

Burke said of Niedermayer, "He deserves that respect. He's going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer."

The GM estimated Niedermayer would be ready play his first game in seven to 10 days.

Without Niedermayer and Selanne, the Ducks got off to a slow start and were third in the Pacific Division with a 12-12-4 record heading into the game against Buffalo.

"Getting news like this and adding someone like that can be a huge boost to our confidence and our mental awareness, whatever you want to call it," Ducks defenseman Sean O'Donnell said. "We welcome him back with open arms. Anything we can do to make our team better."

Selanne, a 10-time All-Star who led the Ducks last season with 48 goals and 94 points, is still basking in the glow of his first Stanley Cup title in 15 NHL seasons. Unlike Niedermayer, Selanne is a free agent and couldn't be suspended.

When Niedermayer and Selanne were on hand for the unveiling of the team's Stanley Cup championship banner early this season, the fans chanted, "One More Year!"

"We'd talked back and forth since then, but I didn't want to ask him about it," said O'Donnell, adding that Niedermayer will require a grace period to get back into the flow of things after the long layoff.

"We can't expect a lot too quickly, but he's a pretty well-conditioned athlete and he skates well, so I don't think it will take him too long."

Niedermayer won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman for the 2003-04 season when he was with the Devils. His captain's "C" was given to another former Norris Trophy winner, Chris Pronger, when the season began and he will remain the captain.

Talking about the team's struggles this season, O'Donnell said: "We have a good team in here. I think our problem right now is kind of between our ears. But if you can add a guy like Scott to give you a shot in the arm and a pick-me-up in those situations, It's a huge addition."

Niedermayer hoisted the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in June and won his first Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He previously won three Stanley Cup rings with the New Jersey Devils before coming to the Ducks in 2005, when he joined brother Rob in Anaheim.

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