Today was Mathieu Schneider's first day on the ice with the Thrashers after Friday's trade. With most of the team in Detroit for a preseason game, there were 10 skaters and one goalie out, and they only went about 45 minutes.
Schneider looked very good. He's such a smooth skater that he doesn't look like he's working very hard, but he was keeping up or ahead of other players in skating drills. He had a good sweat on by the end. Assistant GM Larry Simmons was at the practice checking up on him.
Schneider did not yet have a number on the back of his helmet.
The players seem very favorable about the trade to get Schneider. I asked Eric Boulton some prospect-related questions, and also about Schneider. He said "First day, he hasn't been skating much I don't think, but he looks good, he's gonna help us out a lot. He's a great defenseman, he's gonna make the team a lot better."
He has a very good stick -- keeps it in the right position and tips pucks away a lot.
I said to Colby Armstrong that Schneider looked hard to get around. "Most guys look like that when I'm coming down on them," he joked. "No, definitely a great pickup for us. A veteran guy who can put up numbers but has the experience and solid play that we need. Obviously a good move for our team and I think everyone here is looking forward to having him. I just got to meet him this morning, but from what I've heard, great guy, great team guy, so a good guy to have in our room for sure and on the ice for us."
Brett Sterling on Schneider: "Oh, he's a great player. His stats over the last, what is it, 15 years have been unbelievable. I actually met him about three years ago in LA, skating with a bunch of guys out there [in the summer] and he was unbelievable. I mean I was still in college and he treated me like one of the guys. There was no awkwardness at all. He came in today and said hi, remembered me. He's one of those guys who's a great team guy and it's gonna be a great step for this team. I think it really helps us."
Sterling played goal at the end after Hedberg went off. He was actually rather good at it. He was down and dirty in the snow -- I told him he looked like a snowman when he came off.
Jeff Pyle, coach of the ECHL Gwinnett Gladiators, led the drills today. He's the most senior coach left now that the Wolves coaches cleared out for their own camp. He had two guys helping move pucks around and it was hard to identify them because though I had seen their faces, I had never seen them on skates before. One was strength and conditioning coach Ray Bear, who is always in sneakers and a clip board.
I asked Pyle who his other assistant was. He said he thought his name was Cat, but joked that we should definitely check with immigration. Pyle said that Cat's claim to fame is that he toured with the Beatles -- he doesn't know if it's true, but it's a good story.
He is indeed Cat Collins, a guy who helps out with the equipment on game nights.
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