Canucks: Should have been Schneider’s day to shine
The beginning of the NHL’s regular season has been written off for so long, Thursday will come and go with barely a shrug.
At this point, the loss of the season opener feels like it hardly matters.
But it matters to Cory Schneider.
On Thursday, Schneider will be in Vancouver, sitting back and analyzing Alex Rodriguez’s swing, instead of in Calgary doing what he should be doing — breaking down the Flames.
“I’ve waited eight years for this, what’s a few more months?” said Schneider, playing it down unconvincingly.
It was his way of making light of an impossible situation.
This was set up to be Schneider’s moment. After investing those long years patiently waiting his turn as the Canucks apprentice in net, this fall he was ready, at age 26, to graduate. If all had gone well for everyone involved, Roberto Luongo would have been traded by now, maybe even to Edmonton, and Schneider would be making his final preparations to launch his career as an NHL starter.
“It’s frustrating,” admitted Schneider, who was finally going to make a lot more than $1 million for the first time in his career.
“We’d love to be playing on Thursday night. It’s always an exciting time of year. It’s too bad we won’t have that opportunity.
“It’s something I want to get started. The opportunity (to be the Canucks starter) is something I’ve really worked hard for and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a while.”
For now, his hockey career has been knocked semi-conscious and reviving it, which he will eventually need to do, will include a monkey wrench. Or two.
Like many North American-raised goalies, Schneider hasn’t considered playing in Europe. The game, with its larger sheet, is so foreign, goalies are freaked out by the notion it will alter their technique, allowing bad habits to fester.
Netminders fear “bad habits” like Rodriguez fears fastballs these days, and it’s why they spend hours upon hours working the same drills over and over during the course of a season. It’s also why so many of them avoid shinny hockey in the offseason like it’s a core-economic issue.
But here’s the irony, if an NHL goalie like Schneider doesn’t go to Europe, shinny hockey is all he has left.
“You can get a little sloppy here,” said Schneider after workout with a handful of NHLers at UBC. “You can lose some of your good habits.
“For now, I’m just trying to stay up with the pace of NHL shooters. You can go backwards if you do work on your (technique) but only face college or low-level shooters.
“Sometimes, it’s a bit of a trade-off and you have to make a call on what is going to help the most.”
Or hurt the least.
It’s quite the Catch-22 for Schneider, who may have as little as 10 days o get ready for a season when — if — the lockout ends.
This is not exactly the best way to be prepping for the most critical junction of his career. No one wants to think of the “what if he can’t do it?” question. But the reality is, there is a finite amount of time Schneider will have to play hockey in his prime. There is also a finite number of chances he’s going to have to prove he’s an elite No. 1 goalie in the NHL.
“But the whole point of this lockout (for the players) is to not get frustrated,” Schneider said. “If I allow myself to get deeply frustrated, then things can spiral out of control in terms of your work ethic, and in terms of your decision making.
“I’m trying to keep things in perspective and hoping for the best, by being optimistic. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I just think there is too much at stake for both sides to really make this thing go a long, long time.
“Until then, I’m just waiting for my chance and trying to stay sharp.”
Schneider could still try and stay sharp by going home to Boston to spend time with goalie coach Brian Daccord, who has been helping hone his game since he was 15 years old.
“It may come to it where I get in touch with him to try and figure something out,” Schneider said.
“He has a pretty nice set up there in New England, teaching midget, high school, college and American Hockey League guys. He and I are good friends and have a good relationship, so I’m sure we could figure it out.”
Of course, if he were to leave, his teammates would be left without a goalie for their on-ice practices at UBC, making their workouts even less productive.
Never seems to be easy for Schneider, does it.
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