Scott Niedermayer back practicing with Ducks

Thu Dec 6, 2007 3:24pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who helped the Anaheim Ducks claim their first Stanley Cup title last season, will be back at practice on Thursday after deciding against retirement.

Niedermayer, 34, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the 2007 playoffs, announced this week he was returning to play with Anaheim.

"We are very pleased Scotty has chosen to come back," Ducks general manager Brian Burke told a news conference before Wednesday's 4-1 win over Buffalo.

"He earned the right to take time making a decision, one that was clearly difficult for him."

Niedermayer had 15 goals and 54 assists for 69 points in 79 regular season games last season to lead NHL defensemen in scoring and was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league's top defenseman.

"I'm excited to be rejoining my team mates and getting back on the ice," said Niedermayer, who also won three Stanley Cups with the Devils after making his league debut with New Jersey in the 1991-92 season.

Niedermayer, who had two years and $13.5 million remaining on his contract, was suspended by the Ducks without pay after he did not report to training camp.

Burke said given his "conditioning fanaticism," the defenseman could be ready to play soon.

"My guess is ... we're looking at 7-10 days and then you could see him in a game next week," Burke said.

"He's made it clear his commitment to come back is for this season only and I've made it clear we're not going through this same dance again."

(Writing by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Tony Jimenez)

<p>Anaheim Ducks' captain Scott Niedermayer holds the Conn Smythe Trophy after being named MVP after Game 5 of the 2007 NHL Stanley Cup Finals in Anaheim June 6, 2007. Niedermayer will be back at practice on Thursday after deciding against retirement. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>