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Home > Sports > NHL vet looks beyond rink wars to family life

NHL vet looks beyond rink wars to family life

The American Jewish World
March 11, 2001

St. Paul, MN--Mathieu Schneider of the Los Angeles Kings, a 13-year veteran of professional hockey who has been playing since he was a boy, should be showing signs of slowing down.

Now with his fifth National Hockey League team (previous stops included Montreal, Toronto, and New York both the Islanders and Rangers), Schneider hopes to settle down in the City of Angels with his wife and son, born two months premature on Dec. 15. Judaism will figure in their family life.

But the 31-year-old Schneider, who signed as a free agent with Los Angeles this season, still has what it takes to be a leader on the ice and a factor in helping his team grab a playoff spot. He and the struggling Kings came to the Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 16 to face the Minnesota Wild and came away with a big, 4-0 win.

"It was just a great all-around team effort. That was a big game for us tonight," said Schneider, whose team recently finished an eight-game homestand with only a 2-5-1 record and began its current five-game road trip with a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Feb. 14. The Wild had beaten the Kings 4-1 in Los Angeles on Jan. 27.

Schneider has seen a lot of changes in the league since he broke in with the Canadiens in 1989, especially since coming to Los Angeles this year. The trips are longer, according to him, and the days off less frequent.

"We were pretty much on the road the first two months of the season," Schneider told The American Jewish World from his hotel room in St. Paul the day before his game with the Wild. "It was kinda crazy. Its just always been a part of the game."

The game has been part of Schneiders life for as long as he can remember. Born in New York City, his Jewish father saw to it that the younger Schneider got every opportunity to become a professional hockey player.

Schneider even went to Mount St. Charles Academy, a prestigious Catholic hockey school in Rhode Island, to further improve his career chances.

"My dad did a good job of always giving me the right people to teach me the game," Schneider said.

Although he didnt celebrate his Bar Mitzva, Schneider plans to take Hebrew lessons in the off-season. His wife, whom he met while playing in Toronto, plans to convert to Judaism as Schneiders own mother did and the couple intend to raise their son as a Jew.

"My dad is very proud of being Jewish," he said. "Over the past few years its something Ive become more interested in and started reading, trying to learn more about my past. Thats led to my wife wanting to convert."

Due to the demands of the job, Schneider hasnt had the time lately to bond with his newborn son, but he philosophically notes that "hes still so young and moms doing most of the work right now." No. 10 for the Kings is concentrating on getting his club back into the postseason.

"We definitely have a high talent level, probably the highest Ive ever played with," said Schneider, who won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993. "Its just a matter of putting it together at the right time.

"Road trips can be great for a team, especially when youre struggling. Guys spend more time together, eat together, and do all those things. It can really jumpstart a team."

Schneider entered the game as the Kings fifth-leading scorer with 41 points on 14 goals and 27 assists.

When the Wild went down a man on a penalty for too many men on the ice, Schneider seized the opportunity.

Just 26 seconds into the penalty, Schneider hesitated at the point and then slapped a high, boring shot past Minnesota goalie Jamie McLennan for Los Angeles first goal of the game.

Schneider came back on another Kings power play to assist Luc Robitailles goal late in the second period, which gave Los Angeles a comfortable 3-0 lead. The Kings added another goal to top the Wild 4-0. Playing alongside fellow defenseman Rob Blake (who was traded last week from Los Angeles to the Colorado Avalanche), Schneider never left the ice when his team was either on the power play or short-handed.

"We controlled the puck a lot tonight," Schneider said in the lockerroom. "I like being out there in those situations. Ive always considered it a privilege.

"I gotta work hard to be in those situations as well. Tonight, the power play came up really big for us."

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