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A Defenceman That Fits the Bill

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
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Not to be forgotten on a sunny afternoon that may go down as the turning point in the 2009.10 campaign was the long-awaited announcement that Schneider will kick-off his 20th NHL season in a Canucks uniform.

At 40-years-old Schneider will likely be deployed with tact by head coach Alain Vigneault. Schneider is a few years beyond top-two minutes, but fits nicely into a blueline corps that lost a truckload of veteran leadership in Ohlund.

"In Mathieu Schneider we got a seasoned guy who can run the power play, and show our younger players how to run a power play, and we're really confident he'll provide that kind of leadership and experience back there."

Though Schneider is coming off arthroscopic shoulder surgery in May after a late-season injury as member of the Montreal Canadiens, the slick defender said health isn't an issue heading into camp.

"I feel like I could definitely play if it was a critical point in the season. I've been on the ice skating and shooting and haven't had any issues. Obviously the true test will be contact and I haven't had a chance to be involved with any of that."

While Gillis insists that Schneider will participate in training camp, Canucks fans will have to wait till October to see him dress in game action.

"We don't know that he'll be playing in exhibition games, but that may be more our choice than his," said Gillis. "But based on all the medical stuff we looked at… he should be in great shape and ready to go."

Above and beyond experience, Schneider brings power-play skills and the ability to exploit aggressive forechecking with a quick accurate pass to streaking forwards.

And it's worth noting that despite being seven years older than Vancouver's next defenceman (Sami Salo, 33), the New York product is only three seasons removed from setting career-highs in goals (21) and points (59).

Throughout his 19-year NHL career, Schneider has never put up less than 30 points in a full season. Sixteen times he's eclipsed the 30-point plateau, including last season, which was split between Atlanta and Montreal.

In addition to all Schneider brings to the table from an on-ice perspective, he's also got something that only one other Canuck does: a Stanley Cup ring.

Schneider won the Cup in 1993 as a member of the Canadiens. In 11 post-season appearances that year he recorded three points, but more importantly, he was part of the defensive unit that held Wayne Gretzky at bay long enough for Montreal to win its 24th championship.

Mikael Samuelsson, another Canucks off-season pick-up and a former teammate of Schneider from Detroit, is the other Vancouver player with a Cup ring.

For the trivia buffs out there: on March 13, 1996, Schneider was traded from New York to Toronto, along with Wendel Clark and D.J. Smith, in exchange for Darby Hendrickson, Kenny Jonsson, Sean Haggerty and Toronto's first-round draft choice in 1997.

Who did the Islanders take with the fourth overall pick in 1997?

If you went with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, you're correct.

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