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Schneider has no plans to retire, hopes to bounce back with Devils

Goalie looks to future after overcoming surgeries, getting sent to AHL

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Cory Schneider said he isn't thinking about retirement despite some tough recent seasons with the New Jersey Devils.

"It's all about trying to be in peak physical condition because I feel good, mentally," the goalie said Monday. "I want to continue my career. I haven't entertained thoughts of retirement at all."

The 34-year-old, who has two seasons remaining after this one on a seven-year contract he signed with the Devils on July 9, 2014, has endured two surgeries and two American Hockey League assignments since 2016.

"I have two years left on my contract and my obligation and my goal is to do that and see where it goes from there," he said. "I'm not naive to the business side of things, but feel that when I'm playing well, I can do a lot for our team on the ice and off the ice. That's the role that I want to fill."

Schneider had surgery to repair a core muscle injury in May 2016, and surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left hip two years later. He was 0-6-1 with a 4.65 GAA and .852 save percentage in nine games and was assigned to Binghamton of the American Hockey League on two occasions before earning his first win in the NHL this season on Feb. 25 with 27 saves in a 4-1 victory at the Detroit Red Wings.

Schneider is 3-6-2 with a 3.53 GAA and an .887 save percentage in 13 games (11 starts); he was 3-0-1 with a 1.50 GAA and .952 save percentage in his last four before the NHL paused the season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. 

"It's amazing how quickly it goes," Schneider said. "I'm 34, but you don't always feel like you're 34, and that number has a stigma to it in the League. It used to be the norm, but now anyone over 30 ... unless you're an elite player, you're taking up space for everyone else, it seems. It makes it challenging, but that's a good challenge to have. It's an opportunity to do new things, techniques, and really try and evolve your game. 

"You may not have the flexibility or some of the physical traits you had when you were younger, but I think as you get older, you gain more perspective and I think you're more sharper and you can think the game better than when you were younger."

Video: Season Snapshot: New Jersey Devils

Schneider was acquired by New Jersey in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks on June 30, 2013; he is 115-133-50 with a 2.50 GAA and .915 save percentage in 311 games in seven seasons with the Devils.

While Schneider worked on his game in Binghamton, Mackenzie Blackwood emerged as the starting goalie for New Jersey. The 23-year-old, who can become a restricted free agent after this season, is 22-14-8 with a 2.77 GAA, .915 save percentage and three shutouts in 47 games (43 starts). 

"I'm a different goalie than Mackenzie; different than Andrei Vasilevskiy (of the Tampa Bay Lightning)," Schneider said. "We have different traits that make us NHL goalies, and for me it's about accentuating those and doing them to the best of my ability while also just trying to be as good as I can in every other area, like taking care of my body and doing things I might not have considered before when I [was younger]."

Schneider was 7-7-0 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in 14 AHL games this season. He was placed on waivers Nov. 18 after going 0-4-1 to start the season with New Jersey and was recalled on Feb. 20.

He's an advocate of the two-goalie rotation.

"It's difficult to have a guy play 60-70 games a year and then get 10-25 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, depending how far you go," Schneider said. "The scoring chances, pace and shot totals feel more daunting and difficult for goalies. I think you can still have a two-goalie system where there is somewhat of a hierarchy, where one guy will play two out of every three games. That's big for a goalie because you can plan ... get your body ready, mind ready.

"Goaltending is like pitching ... you can never have too much of it. The wear and tear guys go through, it's good to have a second guy you can trust."

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