Schneider arrives in Winnipeg

KIRK PENTON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 6:27 PM ET

Considering he's been playing pro hockey for 22 years, it takes an awful lot to shock Mathieu Schneider.

He was pleasantly surprised, however, when he arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday night.

“I had no idea,” the 40-year-old said with a laugh. “I thought we were playing in the old arena. I was pretty happy to see the new arena, to tell you the truth.”

That new arena is MTS Centre, where the veteran defenceman of 1,281 NHL games will ply his trade for the foreseeable future with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. The parent Vancouver Canucks waived Schneider last week after he and the coaching staff had a falling out over playing time, and he got assigned to the farm on Sunday.

Schneider will continue to earn the $1.55 million salary he agreed to in August, and, according to the Vancouver Sun, he is owed a $250,000 bonus on Jan. 15.

The New York City native said he didn’t think twice about coming to the Moose, and it wasn’t because of the money.

“I just want to get out there and play,” Schneider said. “I’ve been off for a couple weeks now, and I just want to have some fun. Get out there and play the game I love.”

Schneider, looking relaxed and holding a steaming cup of coffee in his hand, met with a large local media gathering yesterday morning before taking part in team-building exercises with his new teammates.

The two-time U.S. Olympian was quick with a laugh and joked that it was nice to no longer be the oldest guy on his team. That was a good-natured jab at Moose captain Mike Keane, who in 1993 won a Stanley Cup with Schneider when they were with the Montreal Canadiens.

Even though Schneider left the Canucks under auspicious circumstances, Moose head coach Scott Arniel is not worried about Schneider’s attitude around the young players in the dressing room.

“Matt’s a pretty classy guy, and I talked to him briefly about it,” Arniel said. “To me, it’s not my concern. I don’t know what was said, all of what was said. Some of it may be accurate, (some of it) may not be accurate.

“I’m more concerned about what he does here and how he carries himself. We talked about being a leader, being a veteran guy, fitting in with this group.”

Expect Schneider to be in the lineup on Friday night when the Moose host the Hershey Bears in a rematch of last year’s Calder Cup final. It’s their first meeting since Hershey won the championship in Game 6 at MTS Centre last June.

Schneider said the Vancouver matter was “personal” and that he and GM Mike Gillis, who happens to be his former agent, handled the situation “between themselves.”

“There’s really not a whole lot to talk about,” Schneider said. “I just told him I wanted to play hockey.

“… As long as I’m here there’s young guys I think I can help and make better. It’s just all about being a good leader, being a good guy in the dressing room, and that’s all I’ve ever tried to do my whole career.”

The Canucks didn’t care if Schneider came to the Moose or not, as they are essentially done with him. Arniel, after consulting with Manitoba GM Craig Heisinger, figured it wouldn’t hurt to bring him in, even though the team now has six veteran-classified players but can dress only five due to league bylaws.

“To have the opportunity to gain a player of that stature, with a pedigree that he’s had, certainly makes our hockey club a lot better,” Arniel said.

The coach noted that Schneider is still a bargaining chip for the Canucks and that he could even return to the parent club if injuries decimate its blue-line.

“They may have to kiss and make up and move back that way,” Arniel said. “As long as he’s here, we’re going to try to milk it as much as possible.”


Videos

Photos