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Devils' Schneider returns to face Canucks, Luongo

The SportsXchange

VANCOUVER -- Goalie Cory Schneider said hello to old friends again Tuesday as he returned to Vancouver to face his former Canucks squad for the first time since being traded to the New Jersey Devils on the day of the 2013 NHL draft.

But Schneider also hoped to use the game as a chance to say goodbye and move on from the organization that developed him into an NHLer.

First though, he had to face more inevitable talk about the trade that changed his career and life. He wound up getting a new jersey after Roberto Luongo was expected to be dealt but stayed.

"It's a little surprising at first," Schneider said after the Devils' morning skate. "It's pretty unexpected. So you don't have any time to prepare for it. We've all been prepared for something for so long, and then it finally happens and we don't know what to do.

"But it sneaks up pretty quickly, I think. There's a part of me that thinks about what could have been, but I think the other half of you gets excited for what's to come ahead."

The 27-year-old Marblehead, Mass., native entered the game still looking for his first win as a Devil. He drew the starting assignment against his mentor and friend Luongo, whose remaining years on a 12-year, $64-million contract proved too onerous for potential suitors. Luongo is clearly No. 1 again in Vancouver with Eddie Lack having progressed to Schneider's former backup role from the AHL and his native Sweden.

The effect of the trade won't be felt in Vancouver for another season or two. Centre Bo Horvat, 18, the player the Canucks chose with the ninth overall 2013 draft pick acquired for Schneider, was returned to his London Knights junior team following the preseason.

Meanwhile, Schneider is again finding his way to full-time starter status as he shares the net with future hall of famer Martin Brodeur who, ironically, hails from the same Montreal neighborhood as Luongo.

While many observers are questioning how long Brodeur, 41, can keep playing at a high level, Schneider is not.

"He seems really comfortable with himself and his game and where he's at, and he's really accomplished everything you can pretty much accomplish in your career," Schneider said. "I don't think he's looking to prove anything to anyone else but himself at this point, and he's still very capable of playing the position really well."

Accordingly, just as he did with the Canucks, Schneider is showing a willingness to wait his turn for extensive playing time with the Devils.

Luongo is certain that he will prove his worth.

"He is already one of the best goalies in the league and he deserves to start," Luongo said. "Unfortunately, right now, he's not in a situation where he's able to do that, so I feel for him in that way. But, obviously, his time will come. He just has to wait. He has obviously been through it before."

Still, Schneider is taking nothing for granted while trying to apply his West Coast experiences on the East Coast.

"I'm still trying to earn my time," he said. "I learned a lot of things here that will, hopefully, carry me forward throughout my career -- just dealing with adversity, dealing with the tension, pressure and the expectations to win. I think those are all good things."

Frustration, on the other hand just "breeds bad habits and bad energy," so he is not letting it creep into his head.

"If you play well enough and you deserve to be in the net, you'll get there," Schneider said.
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