Scott Niedermayer has begun skating at an undisclosed Southland rink and could return to the Ducks as soon as mid-December if he decides to continue his playing career, his agent said Wednesday.
Kevin Epp stressed that his client has not made a decision and does not expect to make one for “another month.” Epp said that Niedermayer, 34, has been preparing for a possible return since last week and has been on the ice with former Ducks Travis Green and Jeff Friesen.
“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,” Epp said.
Niedermayer has been contemplating retirement since the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in June. It was his first with Anaheim after winning three titles in New Jersey.
Epp said Niedermayer has been following the Ducks. “I think he feels that they’re not doing well and he feels he wants to be pulling that rope with those guys,” Epp said. “It’s like anything else. Whether it’s your teammates or your kids, if they’re in trouble, you want to help them out.”
Epp said Niedermayer wants to make a final decision over the next few weeks so that he won’t hamper any efforts by General Manager Brian Burke to make any moves.
“I think he’s feeling the team can’t be handcuffed in this process,” Epp said. Niedermayer, who is under contract until 2009, is currently suspended. If the former captain were to return, the Ducks would quickly reinstate him and the defenseman would be paid about $4 million of his $6.75-million salary this season.
-- Eric Stephens