Selanne, Niedermayer still pondering return-or-retire question

Updated: October 11, 2007, 1:26 AM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Fans chanted "one more year!" at Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne when they joined the rest of the Anaheim Ducks in unveiling the team's Stanley Cup championship banner Wednesday night.

Even NHL commissioner Gary Bettman chimed in, telling Niedermayer, "We, of course, would love to see you back" during the first period intermission of the Ducks' home opener against Boston.

Niedermayer and Selanne have yet to announce whether they intend to play this season or retire.

Both players definitely heard the fans' pleas of another season, and witnessed the standing ovations.

"It was pretty convincing," Niedermayer said after the first period.

Selanne added, "It was pretty awesome. It was emotional, too."

Even while they wait, the Ducks have moved on. Defenseman Chris Pronger was named captain in place of Niedermayer, and the team signed defenseman Mathieu Schneider from Detroit during the offseason as insurance in case Niedermayer called it quits.

Then, Niedermayer said he told general manager Brian Burke that he was leaning toward retirement at 34. But now, he said, "I'm not as sure as I was."

The Ducks could use their two veteran stars. Anaheim had lost three consecutive games heading into Wednesday night after splitting a season-opening two-game series with the Los Angeles Kings in London.

"When things aren't going well, you'd like to be out there to help," said Niedermayer, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as last season's playoff MVP.

He spent a harried summer in his hometown of Cranbrook, British Columbia, where he was bombarded by friends and strangers wanting to know if he'd be back.

"It was hectic in Canada, talking about it everyday, 10 times a day," said Niedermayer, who said he has not skated in months.

He returned to Southern California about six weeks ago, where he is less hassled and has had more time to think.

"I have a little bit of an idea in my mind," he said.

But he offered no timetable for making an announcement.

"The team has been too understanding," he said. "This has taken it too far already. When it does come to a conclusion, it's probably best for everybody."

During the summer in Finland, Selanne kept busy with daily off-ice workouts, shuttling his kids to soccer and hockey practice and whittling down his golf handicap. Being away from Anaheim kept his mind off hockey.

"It has been so easy because I haven't been around," he said. "I know when I'm around more, I'm probably going to get the feeling again."

Selanne said the Ducks haven't pushed him to make a decision, and he also offered no timetable.

"If I'm going to come back, it has to come from inside," he said. "I want to make sure this decision is right."

What if Niedermayer calls and says he's coming back?

"I'm going to have second thoughts," Selanne said, smiling.

Before the game, the Ducks celebrated the Stanley Cup title they won in June over Ottawa by raising an orange-white-and-black banner and lowering the gleaming Cup from the ceiling on a silver tray.

It was carried to a table where the Conn Smythe and Campbell trophies rested. The team also raised banners signifying its first Pacific Division championship and Western Conference title.

Selanne wore his glittering Stanley Cup ring, which includes the words 'California's First Cup' and the Ducks' 16-5 postseason record on one side. The other side has his name and 93, marking the Ducks' inaugural year, and 07 for their championship season. The ring contains 14 diamonds representing the years the team has been in existence.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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