Schneider excited to be a Devil for the long term. (GETTY IMAGES)
Devils President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Cory Schneider on Wednesday joined a conference call with the media to discuss Schneider’s new contract extension.
Cory, how pleased are you with this?
Schneider: I think the first word that comes is excitement. I’m excited to be a New Jersey Devil for a long time, hopefully the rest of my career. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but this is something that I think both Mr. Lamoriello and the ownership, I think it’s something we all wanted to get done. They were very serious about it, which was great. We didn’t go back and forth too much. I think we were both on the same page and we wanted to do something that was good for both of us. To see that kind of commitment and belief in me was good for me to see and made the decision all that much easier.
What did you hear from the Devils that made you comfortable?
CS: I didn’t necessarily need to hear anything. I knew how they felt about me. Mr. Lamoriello made it very clear from the start, throughout the season and after the season that they believed in me and that they had confidence in me and thought that I was the guy that I think I can be. He reiterated that, but there was nothing specific. Just the act itself said everything that needed to be said. They made a strong commitment to me, so that speaks volumes.
Was it a factor in making this commitment that you now know you’re going to be the No. 1 guy?
CS: Yeah, I think it was a part of it. I think it was made very clear that you don’t make this kind of deal or this kind of extension if they didn’t believe that I was the guy or that I didn’t believe I was going to be the guy. There was sort of a mutual understanding, without it being said, that this was kind of how things were progressing and that this was the next step in my evolution. I don’t think either side makes that commitment if you don’t believe that you’re going to be the guy for next year and many years to come.
Are you also happy with the direction the team is headed?
CS: Free agency is always exciting, the Draft and trades and all that kind of stuff. You want your team to do whatever it can. I think the ownership has shown a commitment to add players and spend the money to be a good team and Mr. Lamoriello went out and did that. I’m really excited by the additions of Mike [Cammalleri] and Marty Havlat; I think it’ll help us up front. And to give some of our younger defensemen a great opportunity because I think we all believe they can be special players in this League. We weren’t very far off last year. A couple of bounces and things could’ve been a lot different. To add players of this caliber and to count on guys bouncing back and having years like they can, I think it’s good to see.
Lou, is this the longest commitment to a goalie this franchise has ever made?
Lamoriello: I don’t want to get into the length of anything. What we’re making is certainly a commitment for today and for a number of years. The length of it doesn’t matter because I think Cory’s going to play as long as he can possibly play at the level we all believe he can play. It’s longer than we’ve done in the past, but in our opinion, it’s a great situation.
What made you feel he’s the guy going forward?
LL: We’ve seen Cory play from college and even in prep school and followed his career being local and being in Hockey East – certainly in our backyard. He’s someone that we’ve coveted for a number of years and watching his growth, watching his consistency and knowing the character of him. I think that’s very, very important in a goaltender. You have to have a goaltender who players want to play in front of, who respect each other. Cory has that from his teammates and vice versa. There are so many reasons for it, but certainly fundamentally, he’s an outstanding goaltender. In my opinion he’s one of the top goaltenders in the League.
How important is it to have the contract done now?
CS: For me, I’ve never really gone through this before. I don’t know how it would have played out during the year, but I’m glad it didn’t get to that point because it’s good to know the team supports you and believes in you and that you can just go about your business and prove that you’re the player you think you are and that they think you are. I don’t think it would’ve been a distraction by any means, but when both sides are committed to getting this done, I think it’s better if it doesn’t drag out. They came with a strong offer and a strong commitment and that was great for me to see.
LL: Timing is everything in life and a perfect situation created itself. We had an opportunity a year ago to acquire Cory at the Draft, which gave us two years of him under contract. We had one year to see him and to feel that we were either right or wrong in what we felt when we made the trade. He proved that right. For us to be able to get this now and put it behind us rather than wait this year and see how things transpired, there was no reason to do so. That’s the reason that it took place from our end of it and the sooner you can do things when you know it’s what you want, the better it is for everyone. To help this along a little bit: if Cory had to play out this year and we had to work towards it, I don’t think it would’ve affected his play or our thoughts on him whatsoever. I feel very comfortable saying that.
What are your feelings about the fact that the team was willing to move past Martin Brodeur?
CS: That was something that didn’t necessarily pertain to me directly. I think that’s something the organization and Marty had to come up with on their own, and I respected that. I respected the fact that Marty’s done what he’s done for this organization and for the player and the person that he’s been. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’m sure it was a difficult process for Mr. Lamoriello and Marty because of the relationship they’ve developed over the years, but it shows the commitment they were willing to make to me. Marty’s had a fantastic career that may continue here. To sort of say, you’re the guy we feel comfortable with taking over the reins and moving forward with, it says a lot.
What did it mean to you to hear Marty say last season that the most important thing is to sign you to an extension?
CS: It means a lot. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Marty. I think everyone does who’s met him or played with him. In spite of what may or may not have happened on the ice in terms of playing time, he and I always got along. We had a good relationship and we respected each other. It’s tough to handle those scenarios if you don’t have that respect, but I think we did and that’s what made it easier to split games and play when we were supposed to play. To hear him say that means a lot because he’s kind of passing his legacy on. I’m sure there’s going to be questions on replacing Marty Brodeur, but I think more along the lines of just continuing the tradition of having great goaltending in New Jersey. It’s become synonymous with the organization: great defense, great goaltending. That’s, in large part, because of Marty. For me to accept that challenge, I think it’s exciting and something I’m hoping to continue.
Is there a sense of sadness that the Devils have to move on and Marty has to move on?
LL: I wouldn’t use the word ‘sadness.’ Marty has had a tremendous career here and Marty will always be a Devil. Marty realizes what is necessary as far as the decision regarding Cory because he was fortunate during his reign of having that in his hand. He knew exactly what was needed. He was excited for the organization when we acquired Cory because he had so much respect for Cory as a player. … I don’t want to look at it as sadness. He’s had a great career; he’ll always be a Devil, just in a different way. Right now it’s just going forward, time has a way of taking care of that. Decisions have to be made. Marty’s legacy is what it is. Cory’s not here to replace Marty. Cory’s here to establish his own identity, which he has done, and go forward with that. As Cory’s said, we’re just delighted because we go from one great goaltender to another. The philosophy of this organization has been build from the goaltender out, and that will continue to be the philosophy.
Was there any point where you had any doubts this was the team you wanted to spend what could be the rest of your career with?
CS: I don’t think so. It was a transition to get traded. You don’t know what to think of it until it happens. You hear it happening and guys sort of adjust. For me, I didn’t know what to think until I went through it. Those fears or questions were easily answered the first time I got there. The team and the organization did everything they could to make me comfortable and to ease that transition, and they did. Once you get the hang of it and figure out what the Devils are all about, it’s easy to buy in and believe in it. The ownership seems to be great; they really seem to be wanting to win and willing to keep us a contending team. Mr. Lamoriello, I think his track record speaks for itself on what he’s willing to do to win. I tend to be a loyal guy. I don’t really have a lot of interest in bouncing around from team to team and being on three teams in four years. I found a place I really liked and that I think will be good for my career and my family. I think it was an easy decision.