Posts tagged “Mathieu Schneider”

Retraction

In my initial reaction to Mathieu Schneider’s decision to sign with Anaheim, I wrote,

“If he wanted a lot more money than the Wings could pay, that’s one thing, but leaving at a price the team could probably afford is an insult. And the fact that he left to go to the team that eliminated the Wings from the playoffs is even worse (if you recall, Sergei Fedorov did the same thing). I thought Schneider was better than that.”

Those comments were an emotional response and came out of ignorance of the real story. That was no excuse to question Schneider’s character like I did, though, as he earned the right to the benefit of the doubt during his time here in Detroit.

Now that more details have come out, the reasons for Schneider’s decision are clearer: the Wings’ low offer, the fact that a California team is better for his family, the opportunity to help the Ducks repeat, and friction between him and Babcock. Those reasons don’t make his decision any less disappointing and hurtful, not least because there was no warning, but they are legitimate reasons and it would be unfair of me to hold it against him.

It’s a tricky thing to wish Schneider the best in Anaheim, as I view the Ducks as the new Avs, but if that’s what they are, Schneider can be a new Joe Sakic: the member of a hated rival team that can still be respected.

Free Agent Update

Ansar Khan has an update on the status of the Wings’ free agent situation.

In summary:

… Hasek should sign within a day or two, having told the Wings he’d rather wait until after the first day of free agency to make a deal

… Todd Bertuzzi is shopping himself around the market, looking for a longer-term deal than the Wings are willing to give him. So, his return may not be all that likely. The Wings are looking for a “second-tier free-agent forward,” to, I assume, replace Bertuzzi in the event he doesn’t re-sign.

… The Wings are looking to spend their remaining $8 million on “Hasek, a forward, and a depth defenseman.” Quite frankly, I don’t really understand the need for a depth defenseman when the team’s blueline corps now stands at Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, Andreas Lilja, Chris Chelios, Brett Lebda, and, likely, Derek Meech. Seems pretty solid to me.

… Danny Markov turned down the Wings’ last offer, so he’s looking less and less likely to re-sign. Not much of a surprise there.

… The Wings apparently didn’t offer Schneider the kind of money they offered Rafalski (as in up to $2 million less per year). So, it seems that all along they were more intent on pursuing the younger Rafalski than on keeping the older Schneider. That’s surprising, given how re-signing #23 was listed as a priority all along.

Schneider bolts to Anaheim

Update (9:15 PM): The Ducks’ site has some comments from Schneider on his decision here. (via Snapshots) - Matt

Update (5:20 PM): According to Brian Burke, Scott Niedermeyer is leaning toward retiring, so Schneider’s decision to head to Anaheim is making more sense. Is it just me or does it seem rather tactless of Burke to blab to the whole world what Niedermeyer is thinking? - Matt

TSN reports that Mathieu Schneider has signed a two-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks that will pay him $5.5 million this coming season and $5.75 the season after that.

I have to think that, if pressed, the Wings were able to offer that much themselves, so it looks like the negotiation hangups were less about the money and more about Schneider just wanting to move on. That’s what makes this deal so offensive to me, though. If he wanted a lot more money than the Wings could pay, that’s one thing, but leaving at a price the team could probably afford is an insult. And the fact that he left to go to the team that eliminated the Wings from the playoffs is even worse (if you recall, Sergei Fedorov did the same thing). I thought Schneider was better than that. I’m sure we’ll hear more on why he left and I’m sure part of it will be a lame excuse about how he doesn’t like Mike Babcock. It’s a great deal for the Ducks, who now have someone who can help fill in Scott Nidermeyer’s shoes, should he decide to retire.

Hopefully Holland will be able to re-sign Markov now and perhaps land one of the bigger-name forwards out there, if not another defenseman.

Everybody panic?

Bruce MacLeod has a post not calculated to raise the hopes of Wings fans here. For a slightly more measured take on the situation (particularly the part about negotiations between the Wings and Hasek), see this CP report. With Hasek no longer a sure thing, Schneider on the verge of finding out his market value, and Todd Bertuzzi wanting job security the Wings aren’t willing to give him, it looks like Danny Markov could end up being the most likely to return, after everyone wrote him off.

The Wings would be okay if they couldn’t reach a deal with Hasek. The alternatives on the market aren’t that appealing, but Chris Osgood is more than capable of backstopping the Wings to the Conference Finals, especially if they bring a similarly solid defense to the table. If pressed, they could sign one of the UFA goalies and try a rotation. Not an ideal situation, but a workable one.

But the defense is the big question: what will it look like? It could be significantly different. The thought of Mathieu Schneider bolting began growing in the back of my mind and it now seems to be the most likely outcome. He has his critics in Detroit and around the League, but Schneider’s value to the Wings is widely underappreciated, as anyone who watched the team’s last playoff run can tell you. Losing him to free agency wouldn’t be quite like losing Nick Lidstrom, but the impact would be huge. I don’t think Andreas Lilja and Brett Lebda are capable of together stepping into Schneider’s shoes. The Wings can bring back Danny Markov and count on Niklas Kronwall being healthy, but they’ll still miss Schneider’s outlet pass, his booming shot, and his underrated ability on the power play, not to mention his defensive capabilities. There’s a reason people referred to Lidstrom and Schneider as the Wings’ 1A and 1B defensemen. There is no immediate replacement for #23, if he should decide to take the money and run.

As for Bertuzzi, I would be more disappointed than upset were the Wings unable to reach a deal. I want to see what he can do with a full season under his belt, but it wouldn’t be a great loss if he didn’t re-sign. It would certainly open up some space for another acquisition by Holland, perhaps Slava Kozlov or even Ryan Smyth. Even if the Wings don’t sign a forward, whether Bertuzzi or someone else, I think they’re in pretty good shape up front anyway. They’ve got a good youth corps looking to step it up and begging for the ice time to do it, so maybe it’s right to give it to them.

So, the outlook may seem a bit bleak, but that’s just because nothing has happened yet. I still think Hasek will sign, so the Osgood haters probably won’t have to worry about watching him play more than 30 games. Schneider could very well re-sign and for a reasonable price, and the Wings are likely to sign Bertuzzi and/or another UFA. Those three points would ensure that last year’s team largely stays the same and would offer the best hope of a return to the Conference Finals. 3-out-of-3 may not be too likely, but 1- or 2-out-of-3 wouldn’t be too bad. And really, even the worst-case scenario (Hasek, Schneider, Bertuzzi gone; no UFAs) wouldn’t be awful, because of the team’s youth depth. It’d just make repeating last year’s success that much tougher for the team and stressful for the fans.

The fun days of refreshing TSN and hoping to see news of Wings UFAs’ re-signing, rather than news of their departures, begin tomorrow. Woo hoo.

Bad news: Wings UFAs have high expectations

Apparently, Ken Holland has hit a bit of a roadblock with Dominik Hasek, Todd Bertuzzi, Mathieu Schneider, and Danny Markov. It seems they all want the kind of money other teams around the league have been throwing at players of similar talents (Anaheim, Philadelphia). Ansar Khan says Dom is still a lock, though his demands have taken the Wings aback, but as for the others, he quotes Ken Holland as saying, “It appears one or two are not going to be in Detroit.”

That sucks, but I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. I’d hoped everyone would put winning ahead of money and keep together a team that could be right back where it was this past season. Idealistic, I know.

If only two of the four will be back, let’s hope it’s Hasek and Schneider.

6/2 Notes

So says Ansar Khan, who notes that the team has made re-signing him a priority. That’s great news, as Mathieu Schneider is a very important piece of the defense and the loss of him would be huge.

Khan also mentions that it’s looking unlikely that Danny Markov will be back. The team wants him and he wants to return, but there may not be cap room. I’m okay with that. I like Danny and his presence makes the defense stronger, but I’m not all that attached to him. He doesn’t fit in with my picture of the 2007-2008 Wings anyway. That picture is pretty simple:

The same basic team, but with a few necessay changes

Old

  • Markov
  • Calder
  • Lang

New

  • Meech (as 7th D-man instead of Quincey because Kyle can return to the AHL without having to clear waivers whereas Derek cannot)
  • Kopecky/Hudler (one of the two gets a regular role)
  • Some upper-level free agent forward to replace Lang (probably not this guy – it isn’t the summer of 2001, after all; but possibly this guy – who hasn’t worn the Winged Wheel since that summer).

Those changes wouldn’t be all that big as far as team cohesion goes. The organization needs to do something about Meech or else they’ll lose him, so giving Lebda the bigger role that he’s earned and letting Markov go is the best way to hold on to Derek as a 7th defenseman. Kopecky can fill Calder’s role using his size and physical play, or Hudler could make a role for himself with his skill using that same roster spot. The biggest (and most looked-for) change, in this scenario, would be the swap-out of Lang for a forward of similar skills but hopefully better performance. If the team can nab someone who will light up the second line, the Wings will be an even harder team to stop next season.

5/26 Notes

… Bruce MacLeod has graded the Wings individual performances for the playoffs and posted the results on his blog. MacLeod is an astute observer of the game and his grades reflect that. Not much to disagree with there.

… MacLeod also was the first (that I saw) to post Chris Chelios’ comments on why he skipped the post-series handshake. Basically, he was overcome with emotion and couldn’t think straight for the final 20 or so seconds of the game, as he knew the team was going to be eliminated on the brink of going to the Finals for what could have been his last time. I totally understand Cheli’s excuse and I think Teemu Selanne’s comments (where he derisively said it just showed Chelios’ true character) were way out of line. George Malik has more from Chelios.

… Ansar Khan writes on Dominik Hasek, saying he’s a “good bet to return,” noting that he’s wanted back by the organization from the front office to the players and that he wants to be back himself. Mike Babcock, apparently, will look to convince him to stay.

Personally, I don’t have any problem with Hasek coming back, except for those nagging concerns over his health in the back of my mind. Of course, they handled him so well this season that it was just about a non-issue. Still, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be as fortunate on another go-around. If Dom is capable of repeating his performance, it’d be great: bring him back. It wouldn’t be any different (except that he’ll be older) than this past season and it worked out fine. It’s just that it’s another roll of the dice.

That said, I wouldn’t be opposed to the team trying the open market or just going with Chris Osgood, with Jimmy Howard doing “enhanced backup” (I made that up) duties. Maybe Jimmy’s not ready for that, though.

All things considered, since Dom’s about the most economic option and provides the best bang for the buck when healthy, I’d be fine with them going with him again if they decide pursuing someone like JS Giguere isn’t worth it.

… Khan goes on to say that Todd Bertuzzi wants to stick around (see his comments here at Red Wings Corner). I’d probably like him to. I think a full season would do wonders for the guy. We definitely never saw what he can really do. I seriously doubt he’ll ever be back to his peak, but I know he can be more effective than he was and giving him a real role on the team would be a great way to get him going again.

… Khan also thinks Mathieu Schneider will resign re-sign. I hope so! Losing him was probably the single biggest reason the Wings won’t be playing hockey Monday night. He’s huge for this team and I hope they can find a way to work out a deal. Last time his contract was up, things didn’t go so smoothly, but I’m pretty confident they will this time around.

… Khan finishes with the unsurprising comment that and that Robert Lang is definitely gone. What is surprising, to me, anyway, is his assertion that Kyle Calder won’t be back either. I guess it’s not such a big surprise given his awful performance in the playoffs, but unless it was due to something other than an injury, I thought his regular season performance was enough to earn him a spot. I guess we’ll hear more about that soon.