Vancouver Canucks: 6 Reasons Cory Schneider Will Be an All-Star

Carol SchramFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2012

Vancouver Canucks: 6 Reasons Cory Schneider Will Be an All-Star

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    Thanks to all the fuss about goaltender Roberto Luongo's status with the Vancouver Canucks, not much has been said lately about the man who looks poised to replace him.

    During his two years with the Canucks, Cory Schneider has steadily impressed with his unflappable nature and his strong skills in net. By the time the Canucks were in a 2-0 hole against Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs, it was all but inevitable that Schneider would get his chance to show that he was ready to be Vancouver's go-to goalie.

    The Canucks lost the series, but Schneider's play was strong enough that he was rewarded with a three-year, $12 million contract this summer. It's generally assumed that he'll be the No. 1 guy when the season starts, whether or not Luongo has been traded.

    Here's a look at why Schneider has earned the No. 1 spot, and why he'll be an all-star in the years to come.

1. Smarter Than Your Average Hockey Player

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    These days, plenty of NHL players go the college route before entering the big leagues. Cory Schneider put some effort into his academic career along the way.

    Hailing from the Boston suburb of Marblehead, MA, Schneider graduated from the prestigious Phillips Academy prep school in Andover, MA. According to his Boston College bio, his academic awards include the 2003-04 John Carlton Memorial Trophy, given annually by the Boston Bruins to the outstanding student-athlete in Eastern Massachusetts high school hockey.

    He also received the 2004 Yale Bowl at Phillips Andover in 2004 for scholarship and athletics, and the 2005-06 Paul Patrick Daley Student-Athlete Scholarship at Boston College.

    Schneider spent three years at Boston College, majoring in Finance. He's now putting those skills to use as part of the NHLPA's 31-member negotiating committee as the players and the league work towards developing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

2. Strong Pedigree

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    Cory Schneider excelled at every level of hockey before joining the Canucks. He's shown great on-ice skills as well as strong leadership.

    Matt Roman wrote about Schneider's early achievements for CBS College Sports back in 2004, as he embarked on his career at Boston College.

    During his high school years at Phillips Andover, Schneider was a two time All-New England selection. In his senior year, he was voted team captain and led his team to the New England Prep School semi-finals with a record of 17-5 and a .960 save percentage.

    He also won gold at the Under-18 World Cup in Slovakia in 2003 and silver at the Under-18 World Championship in Belarus in 2004. He played for Team USA in the 2005 and 2006 World Junior Championships and was named to the senior team for the 2007 World Championships, although he did not play.

    Schneider's three years at Boston College were littered with awards and achievements. The Eagles reached the NCAA final in 2006 and 2007.

    After his junior year, Schneider signed his first pro contract with the Canucks. He then spent three seasons on the farm with the Manitoba Moose. In a story on canucks.com, A.J. Atchue points out that while Schneider's early days in the AHL were rocky, some tough love helped him evolve into one of the top talents in the league:

    Coach Arniel was one of the first guys to sit me down, look me in the eye, and tell me I wasn't good enough, something that I hadn't really heard a lot growing up. Sometimes it's something you need to hear.

    Schneider's long stay in Manitoba was largely due to Roberto Luongo's desire to shoulder most of the load for the Canucks. By staying in the AHL, Schneider was able to get more playing time and develop more completely.

    His peak achievement with the Moose was in his second year, when he led them to the 2009 Calder Cup Final.

3. Great NHL Numbers so Far

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    After appearing in eight games with the Canucks in 2008-09 and two games in 2009-10, Schneider finally made the big squad as Luongo's permanent backup in 2010-11.

    In his first year, he logged a 2.23 GAA and .929 save percentage as coach Alain Vigneault made sure to play him in 25 games—enough to share the Jennings Trophy with Luongo as the league's chintziest goaltending tandem.

    Last season, Schneider's numbers got even better. He played in 33 games, recording a 1.96 GAA and .937 save percentage; both are Canucks' team records for goalies who played more than 7 games in a season (per canucks.com).

4. Unflappable Under Pressure

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    In just two years in the NHL in a back-up role, Schneider has seen some of the most intense competition the league has to offer.

    During the Canucks' 2010-11 playoff run, he made five pressure-packed appearances and recorded a 2.23 goals-against average.

    Last season, Schneider proved to many that he was ready for a starting role in the NHL when he faced his own hometown's Boston Bruins in their rink. Both teams were still looking to settle the issues that had surfaced during the Bruins' hard-fought seven game victory in the previous year's Stanley Cup Final.

    Arguably one of the most intense January games in NHL history, the game featured 55 minutes in penalties for Boston and 52 for the Canucks. Brad Marchand was suspended for injuring Sami Salo, and Schneider faced 39 shots as Vancouver eked out a 4-3 win and exacted a share of revenge against their rivals.

    Schneider continued to show great poise during his three starts against the Los Angeles Kings during the Canucks' brief appearance in the 2011-12 playoffs.

5. Class Act

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    Throughout his two years in Vancouver, Schneider has said all the right things about sharing netminding duties with Luongo. Even going into the playoffs against Los Angeles, he told Kevin Woodley of nhl.com how much he respected Luongo's talent and his work ethic:

    I've learned an awful lot. He's a consummate pro, he goes about his business, he takes what he does very seriously and he works very hard at it. It's fun to watch as a younger guy coming into the League, to see what it's all about and to see how you do that playing 60 games a year in hostile environments with a lot of scrutiny.

    I've taken some cues from him, watching him and interacting with him and seeing how he handles everything....I know it can be a different dynamic, but as long as you are both interested in the goals of the team it can work.

    Since signing his new deal, Schneider has refrained from commenting on the Luongo trade speculation. If Luongo is still on the Canucks' roster when the new season begins, all signs indicate that Schneider will continue to handle the situation with class.

6. Poised to Unseat a Great One

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    When the Canucks signed Roberto Luongo to his big contract extension in the summer of 2009, Cory Schneider had just completed his second season with the Manitoba Moose. Management had no way of knowing how quickly, and how strongly, Schneider would become a force in the NHL.

    As Kevin Woodley puts it, by the Canucks' 2011-12 playoff run, the question was not so much whether Roberto Luongo's play was good; it was whether Cory Schneider might be better.

    Woodley points to everything from Schneider's smaller feet to his more flexible hips as mechanical reasons why he covers the net better than Luongo. His calm approach has also served him well, both on the ice and with the media.

    In their 41-year history, the Canucks had never seen a better goaltender than Roberto Luongo. Suddenly, Schneider appears poised to surpass him. Luongo's a four-time all-star himself; it's hard to imagine that Schneider won't reach those heights sooner rather than later.

     

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