It is never easy to take over for a legend, but in Cory Schneider the New Jersey Devils have a star in his own right. Now in his third season as the team’s starter, he is beginning to cast his own shadow in the crease for a team with legitimate playoff aspirations.
Through 11 games, the Devils are 5-3-3, sitting in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division on 13 points. If they are going to snap a playoff-less streak that extends back to 2012, it will likely be the play of Schneider, an All-Star selection last year, that will take them there.
Replacing a legend and Hall of Fame goalkeeper in Marty Brodeur, whose retired number hangs from the rafters of the Prudential Center isn’t an easy task. Saying that he is trying to establish his own road, his own legacy, Schneider has certainly done that over the course of three seasons. And now he is the face of the franchise, as he forges his own way in goal.
“It’s been a couple of years now and I feel very comfortable where I’m at. I’ve shown people what I can do but now it is time to take that next step, it’s time to get in the playoffs and be a big difference maker in that sense,” Schneider told Metro. “Maybe steal a playoff series or two and start producing some of those kind of results. It is never easy replacing a guy like Marty and what he meant to this team, this area. But I’m hoping I can show people that I can do the job and I’m eager to get him to the next level.”
It was a long road for Schneider to get here, even sitting behind Brodeur for a season following a trade in the summer of 2013 to New Jersey. But with the Devils he found a franchise that allowed him to grow not just as a starter but also as a star and a leader.
Off the ice he’s comfortable, affable and mixes in a quiet confidence with humility. In a sport where goaltenders often have a reputation for being aloof and arrogant, Schneider has in many ways broken the mold by being selfless and approachable.
But for a fanbase that routinely chanted “Marty’s better!” in honor of Brodeur, the emergence of Schneider into a star has a beleaguered following suddenly believing that the Devils have turned a corner.
His strong play had the Devils in playoff contention until late last season and it will be Schneider again who will be counted on to help a team that many think is ready to jump into the postseason once again.
“It seems like every year it is kind of a jumble and then a couple teams or a team gets on a run. We want that to be us, we want to be the team that starts banking wins and gets some distance between us because come March and April it’s really hard to make up ground. If you’re playing catch-up it is really hard,” Schneider said. He spoke at an autograph signing at Miami Mike’s Sports Zone held in conjunction with JAG Marketing.
“I think we like the makeup of our room, some new additions, some high-end skilled guys, some guys who have been productive throughout their careers and some young guys ready to show that they belong. I feel good about the mix in our room – it takes some time to come together and find our rhythm but I think the early returns are great. Sometimes it takes too long too long and you’re out of the race.”