I liked Mathieu Schneider when he was here; good guy, played hard, scored a lot of points, and put in, not great, but solid defense. I thought Holland was a bit loony to invest 3.3M of our tiny cap to the aging Schneids after the lockout, but it turned out Ken Holland knows what the fuck he's doing and I don't, generally.
Turns out that's still true. My opinion, and a lot of others' I've seen, has been that the Rafalski signing was a good deal, but that if the Wings were willing to spend that much (6M) on him, why not give Schneider less (~5.6M) on a shorter deal, get arguably more production, and have more flexibility for the future when the Kindls and the Ericssons and the Pyetts show up. Well, here's why.
Now first of all allow me to lawl a little. Not at Schneids, who is a class act, and upon whom I wish nothing bad. But rather at Brian Burke, who is a toolbox, and the decision he made. Okay, lawl over. When Schneids went down this past season for 10 games in February with a knee issue, I remember a quote of his that was something to the effect of "I've never had a knee problem". I also remember him saying he'd had a relatively injury-free career. So these things were good signs to Wings fans who could look upon the knee issue as an freak issue to be disregarded.
But when Schneids hurt his arm on a harmless looking play in the playoffs, Ken Holland, if no one else, probably started considering that while Schneids took great care of himself, and much like Chris Chelios had the ability and the work ethic to keep playing at a high level for a long time, injuries are a whole 'nother ball game. As Steve Yzerman showed, while pure talent and desire to play and win may remain as high as ever as age progresses, the ability of the body to stay injury free and recover from injuries is what deteriorates rapidly with age.
What Holland probably thought after that freak arm injury of Schneider's, was that while Schneids's determination, work ethic, and ability remained high, it might be about to time to sell off in case two health-anomalies in one season for a relatively injury free, but old player meant the beginning of the end. And with another injury, while I'm not saying Schneider's career or production are anywhere near the end of the tunnel, I'm thinking, today Holland deserves credit for another very savvy move.