Defenceman Scott Niedermayer confirmed Wednesday that he is putting off retirement and rejoining the Anaheim Ducks.
Niedermayer's return was announced prior to Anaheim's 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, prompting a rousing cheer from the crowd of 17,174 at the Honda Center.
"We view it as a very important day for us," Ducks general manager Brian Burke said. "We are, obviously, thrilled that he has elected to come back and play."
Niedermayer, 34, has been pondering retirement since last spring, when he captained the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup.
He has yet to play this season.
"I'm excited to be rejoining my teammates and getting back on the ice," Niedermayer said in a statement.
"I would like to thank the Samuelis [who own the Ducks], Brian Burke, and especially my teammates, for their patience while I wrestled with this very difficult decision."
"We've respected the battle that Scotty has fought over this decision, as far as whether to retire or come back," Burke said.
"For a player who has accomplished what he has accomplished and contributed to our game what he has, our position has been that he earned the right to take that time."
Niedermayer, who is officially suspended by Anaheim, relinquished $2.3 million US in salary as he mulled over retirement, and will skate without pay until activated by the Ducks.
"Scotty's status does not change," Burke said. "He is still a suspended player and is not a roster player until we say he is.
"We will see how his fitness levels are and, then, we will make a decision. Given his conditioning fanaticism, my guess is we are looking at seven to 10 days and we will see him in a game next week."
That said, Burke must find room for Niedermayer on the roster and under the salary cap.
"He has made it clear his commitment is to come back for this season only," Burke said. "I made it clear that we're not going though this same dance again."
Niedermayer, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as top playoff performer, has this season and next remaining on his contract with Anaheim at $6.75 million US annually.
The four-time Stanley Cup champion established career highs in goals (15), assists (54) and points (69) last season, his 15th in the NHL.
Niedermayer has posted 140 goals and 608 points in 1,053 NHL games since being drafted third overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1991.
He was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman in 2004.
"You are talking about a player that is going to walk into the Hall of Fame someday," Burke said.
Niedermayer has won every prominent hockey championship: the Memorial Cup with the Kamloops Blazers; the Stanley Cup with New Jersey and Anaheim; and world, world junior, Olympic and World Cup titles with Team Canada.