Did someone say power play?

Monday, 16.02.2009 / 6:33 PM / News
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Did someone say power play?
MONTREAL – Mathieu Schneider has yet to see a power play he didn’t like. A defensive quarterback by trade, the former Habs defenseman can’t wait to settle back onto the first NHL blue line he ever knew.

Fourteen years may have passed since Schneider last wore a Canadiens jersey, but he’s more than ready to do it all over again.

“I can’t say that I’m surprised really. There have been a lot of rumors flying around lately and I knew something was going to happen,” admitted Schneider. “To be honest, I was hoping it would be Montreal, but you really never know. Most of the time when you hear a rumor like that, it means that it probably won’t happen.

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“There were only like two or three teams that I wanted to go to with the Canadiens being at the top of that list,” added Schneider, who ranked second among Thrashers defensemen with 15 points in 44 games this season before arriving in Montreal. “I’m just thrilled to be back and I can’t say enough about what it means to be a Canadien again.”

Expected to join his new/former team in time for Tuesday’s afternoon practice, Schneider will then get the chance to prove that he's just what the doctor ordered for a struggling Canadiens power play.

“I spoke briefly with Carbo on the phone, but we didn’t get into specifics,” said Schneider via conference call from Los Angeles. “I guess I’ll do what I’ve done for the last 20 years: move the puck and work on the power play. I’m ready to do whatever they need me to do. I think we’ve got a really good group of young players here and experience is probably the biggest thing I’m going to bring to this team.”

The man who pulled the trigger on the deal feels that the 39-year-old will fit the bill for what the Habs require on multiple levels.

“Mathieu fills a need we’ve identified. He can lead the rush, he’s great on the blue line, he has experience and he has experience here in Montreal,” said Canadiens GM Bob Gainey. “He’s a good passer; he can define the play he wants to make and execute it.  He brings in real experience and the opportunity to blend in well with the youth and veterans we already have.  He also understands how the game works when the other team has a man in the penalty box.  Mathieu has a shot that’s capable of scoring from 50-55 feet and that’s an area we haven’t had great results from people who have played in that position this year.”

Schneider’s return to Montreal will see him reunite with former Canadiens teammates Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller and Patrice Brisebois, all with whom he won his only Stanley Cup back in 1993.

“A lot has changed since I last played here but that was such a special time for me,” recalled Schneider, who spent the first seven years of his NHL career with the Habs, from 1988 through 1995. “I had some of the best years of my career here. I’ve got a few great former teammates here that I won the Cup with, so hopefully that’s a good omen.”

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com

Read also:
The 1993 Stanley Cup run
His complete bio and stats with the Canadiens
Habs deal for Schneider
O'Byrne assigned to Hamilton