Scott Niedermayer was the Brett Favre of hockey, hemming and hawing forever about whether he was “retired” or not. Then he became the Roger Clemens of hockey, returning for just enough of the season to tune up for playoff action, opening the door for a similar move by teammate Teemu Selanne, Peter Forsberg, and countless other vets in coming years. If the Rangers ever look like a legit Cup contender, is there any doubt Mark Messier would use the “Niedermayer rule” to come back for a little run? (You can make your own Leafs/Frank Mahovlich joke.)
The first person to use the trick next season will probably be…Scott Niedermayer. As Niedermayer told the Orange County Register, “I’m just concentrating on the next five games, and then hopefully having some fun in the playoffs. Then, I guess, whether I like it or not, I’m going to have to make a decision again.” Terrific.
As he notes, he’s not really thinking about next season right now, despite the pesky matter of that two-year contract he signed. I mean, he’s got until December or so before that sort of thing rises to the top of his to-do list.
Ducks GM Brian Burke talked a tough game:
“You’re talking about a great player, but you have to balance the organization’s need to know and plan,” Burke said. “Without putting any carts in front of any horses, my guess would be the turnaround time would be tight. The notion of keeping cap space and keeping the door open, I’m not sure we can do that two summers in a row.”
Brian, Brian, Brian. Of course you can. And you will. You know you will, if that’s what Scotty wants to do. You’ll just dump another Andy MacDonald or whatever you need to do to make it work. I can picture the phone call on Christmas morning:
Brian Burke: Hello?
Scotty: Hey, Brian. Scotty here. I’m gonna come back again. Is January 20 OK?
Burke: Scott, we can’t do it. I told you we needed a decision right after the playoffs. We just don’t have any cap room for you.
Scotty: Well, OK, I understand.
Burke: Ha! Got ya! Welcome back, ya big lug!