Anaheim Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Brian Burke
released the following statement this afternoon regarding the Scott Niedermayer
situation and signing of Schneider:
“Scott Niedermayer has informed me that he is leaning toward retirement,” said Burke. “Typical of his character and leadership, he made the call this morning in order to allow us to make alternative plans in the event he does not return. Although he has not retired and would be welcomed back, we felt adding another top NHL defenseman was critical to defending our championship. Mathieu Schneider fits into that category and will be a great addition to our team.”
The 38-year-old Schneider played his last four seasons in Detroit and appeared in 68 games last season, recording 11 goals, 41 assists and 66 penalty minutes.
Schneider has played in 1,132 regular-season games over his 17-year career for six different teams. The two-time All-Star has recorded 200 goals and 463 assists in his career, while collecting 1,115 penalty minutes.
Burke, Schneider and Niedermayer each held conference calls with media Sunday afternoon. Following is a transcript of all three:
We weren’t intending to do much today. This was more of a reaction to the telephone call I got this morning from Scott Niedermayer. I had told him the July 1 [free agency] date, and he called me and said he was leaning toward retirement. We immediately jumped into the game and were able to sign Mathieu Schneider.
We’re very excited about adding Mathieu. He’s a quality player and quality person. When we had an opportunity to sign him, we jumped on it and we were very pleased to bring him to the Ducks.
I spoke to Scotty and he was wrestling with the decision. He called this morning and said he didn’t want to get in the way of what the Ducks had to do, and he said he was leaning toward retirement. I called Bob Murray immediately and got to work on adding Mathieu Schneider, who I had very strong feelings for. I called Scotty back and said we had added a guy and it didn’t change our view. We still would welcome him back.
I think it’s the mark of a captain to make that call, and it changes the question dramatically. I don’t think he’s made up his mind. I think that knowing this was the way he’s leaning gave us the impetus to make a move.
I called my boss, Mike Schulman and told him we’d be at a salary cap figure we hadn’t anticipated. He said if that’s what you have to do, go ahead and do it. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Our goal is to repeat, and this was the best move we could make today.
I’m not saying that we’d stay at that higher number. That was the go-head I got from our ownership. We’ll get back to budget later. He said, “If that’s what you have to do, do it.”
The fans in our market are certainly familiar with Mathieu Schneider. I think everyone knows his defensive coverage is excellent, he’s not afraid to play physically down low. He can shoot it on the power play. We couldn’t pass on this opportunity.
Scotty called at around 8:00 this morning. The free agency period didn’t kick in until 9:00 this morning. That’s when Bob Murray contacted Mathieu.
I’m thrilled to be part of the Ducks organization, to be part of a great team and a great organization was a priority for me. I think for my family, this is certainly a top choice. I really couldn’t ask for a better outcome.
I had heard a couple of rumblings about Scotty a couple of weeks ago. The thought of me to Anaheim never crossed my mind. Then Scotty first mentioned retiring, and then my name came up as somebody possibly replacing him. I wasn’t sure. I never really had any idea until this morning. When the call came in, we were very excited. My biggest priority is to win the Stanley Cup Again. In my eyes, there are three or four teams who are top contenders. I was on one last year, and now I’m on one again this year. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
I don’t think there is anything more difficult than defending a championship. Every team in the league is gunning for you. I experience that in Detroit and Montreal when we won in ’93. You have to bring your “A” game every single night. Every team that plays against Anaheim is certainly ready and is worried about getting embarrassed every night. They feel like they need to send a message. It’s very difficult, in any sport. For me, coming here, it’s a great challenge, and at this point in my career, my goal is to win a second Stanley Cup. Once you win it once, the only thing you want is to win it again. I think with the group of players who are in Anaheim, it’s going to be an incredible journey the next few years. I certainly see another Cup in the future for the Ducks with the young talent they have.
There was never really a decision to be made as far as our negotiations. Ken [Holland] made a lot of great overtures. They were obviously tremendous to me. There was never really a time where I thought it was a tough decision to make. We just weren’t on the same page. I feel very comfortable in the decision I made for me and my family.
I hope [Scotty] does not retire. I think we’re a better team with him. But if he does, more power to him.
I just turned 38, but I still feel like I’m in my 20s. I love showing up to the rink every night. As far as I’m concerned, I want to play till I’m Chris Chelios’ age.
From Cranbrook, British Columbia
Each and every player differs in what they expect from their career and their goals and different things like that. I don’t know if I’ll get into every detail of my decision. After thinking about how long I wanted to play, this is along the lines of what I thought. This year with how things ended up, things came about a little quicker.
On if he is leaning “strongly” towards retiring:
I think “strongly” is a fair word. That’s a fair word, for sure.
I think there is definitely motivation about why you play. I won my first Stanley Cup when I was 21 or 22. Every year as a professional, that sort of goal starts anew every year in training camp. You appreciate the challenge in doing that. There are different things that have taken priority and that changes.
There is nothing that is going to all of a sudden appear that is even close to playing hockey in the NHL. I’ve been very fortunate to be in good situations and with good people to learn from, and there is nothing that is going to be new and amazing. There are things that are important to me that I’m looking at and spending time with. There is nothing that is going to take the place of what I’ve been doing at this pint.
Brian and I have had a lot of discussions since the end of the year. He knows sort of where I’m at and he’s trying to do certain things. I’ve tried to respect that as well. I’m sure we’ll continue to talk. He was surprised when he first heard I was considering this. He’s been great in allowing me to make my own decision. He’s offered certain advice. I really appreciate that.
You’re used to showing up every day and playing hard and doing things for each other. Knowing I may not be back, I felt it was important to let Brian know as accurately as I could.
I wanted to give Brian as strong as picture as I could. Brian has asked me to take time and think it through and make the proper decision. I’m trying to do a lot of things at once.
This isn’t something that sort of popped into my head a day after we won. Throughout the year, after the first season we had in Anaheim, and then the next year, you’re on the road and you have plenty of time to think about what you want to do with your career. I thought about something like this and after it happened, I would consider retirement. That’s where we’re at.
I’ll miss the people, the teammates. I think that’s a pretty special bond you have with those guys. You’re competing at a very high level. You need each other and trust each other. Playing at that level, I’ll miss that. There are guys in Canada who play till they’re 70 years old. The game is always there. I’ll miss that as well.
This goes sort of in waves and ups and downs. It’s a big decision and everyone goes through it when you’ve been doing something for a while. People don’t take that lightly. and I’m in that same boat. I’m giving the consideration that every part of that deserves. There is a lot that goes into it. There are different opportunities that you might have and different thing you might miss. There are a lot of things that you might now miss, since there are sacrifices and difficulties that you face. That sums it up.
Over the last two years, going into a new organization with new challenges, trying to win a Stanley Cup with a new environment and new teammates, has been great for my career. It’s added to the motivation. I’ve been very fortunate with everything that’s happened to me. It becomes a thought, Is the motivation there? It needs to be. It takes everything you have to do what we did this year.
I think it’s a thought like that would run through your head when you make a decision like this. Brian asked me to consider everything and picture myself in every situation. I’ll continue to do that. You don’t know how you’re going to react years from now. How will I feel when I haven’t played hockey for a few years and possibly could have? I’ve played a lot of exciting fun, hockey in the NHL and internationally and beyond. I’ve had great experiences in hockey. You feel greedy wanting more.