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Thursday, November 8, 2007
Agent: Decision on defenseman's future expected for another month news services

Scott Niedermayer's agent told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that the superstar defenseman has been preparing for a possible return to the NHL.

According to the report, Niedermayer, who was placed on the suspended list by the Anaheim Ducks while he decides on his future, has been practicing at an undisclosed rink in the Anaheim arena with former NHLers Travis Green and Jeff Friesen since last week.

"I think he knows if he does come back, maybe he's not exactly where he'd like to be, but he wants to be as close to the top of his game as possible," Kevin Epp told the newspaper.

Epp said he doesn't expect Niedermayer to make a decision for another month.

Immediately following the Ducks' Stanley Cup win in June, the veteran defenseman and reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner told the team he was leaning toward retirement. Niedermayer took home his first Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs. The NHL title was the first for the Ducks, but Niedermayer played on three Cup champions with New Jersey before coming to Anaheim in 2005. He also won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman for the 2003-04 season.

"I think he feels that they're not doing well and he feels he wants to be pulling that rope with those guys," Epp told the Times. "It's like anything else. Whether it's your teammates or your kids, if they're in trouble, you want to help them out."

Niedermayer, 34, has two years and $13.5 million remaining on his contract with the Ducks, but his contract doesn't count against the salary cap while he's on the suspended list.

Teemu Selanne, another integral part of the Ducks' Cup run, is also contemplating the end of the road.

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.

The Ducks could use their two veteran stars. Anaheim is off to a 6-8-3 start after splitting a season-opening two-game series with the Los Angeles Kings in London and sit third in the Pacific and 10th in the West.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.