Schneider replacing Niedermayer, who nears retirement

Former Canadien Mathieu Schneider won’t be returning to the Montreal blue line, having played seven seasons and won a Stanley Cup here: he’s just signed a two-year deal with Anaheim paying him $5.5 million and $5.75 million to be a Duck.

This move preceded the expected retirement of Ducks captain and star defenceman Scott Niedermayer, who’s a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“Scott Niedermayer has informed me that he is leaning toward retirement,” Anaheim general manager Brian Burke was quoted as saying in a team statement earlier today, appearing on the Ducks website.

(Earlier in the day on TSN, Burke said he was in no hurry to do any shopping, and was suggesting to Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne that they take their time to decide their futures. Burke did, technically, not rush his shopping, waiting a few hours to sign Schneider.)

“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.” Burke continued in the statement. “Although he has not retired and would be welcomed back, we felt adding another top NHL defenceman was critical to defending our championship. Mathieu Schneider fits into that category and will be a great addition to our team.”

There was considerable speculation that Canadiens UFA Sheldon Souray might be headed to the Ducks in the event that Niedermayer retired.

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