Let’s start at the beginning shall we? June 30, 2013 was the date of the NHL Entry Draft held at the New Jersey Devils’ very own Prudential Center. I was fortunate enough to win tickets via the Devils on Twitter and went to the draft with a group of friends. It was such an amazing experience, I mean I got to kiss the Stanley Cup! How cool is that??? What made that draft day so memorable is what the Devils did with their 9th overall selection. It was clear we needed a forward and there was a ton of talent available so it was pretty fun trying to figure out who legendary General Manager Lou Lamoriello was going to select. However, in classic Lamoriello fashion he did not stick to the script. He pulled off one of the greatest trades in franchise history.
Gary Bettman walked up to the podium to some of the loudest boos you’ll ever hear, which is customary anywhere he goes. Then he grins and says “We have a trade to announce… [boos] … I think you’re gonna wanna hear this!” I swear that part cracks me up every time. The arena went from vociferious booing to as quiet as an arena can get. Everyone was just like “wait trade what?” Then he hit us with the fact we just traded for Cory Schneider. I screamed so loudly; it was an amazing feeling to know we didn’t have to worry about what would happen when Martin Brodeur retired anymore. We had our goalie of the present and the future. Cory Schneider was Lou’s parting gift to us and what a glorious gift he has been.
I watch this video a few times a year and get chills every single time.
So now Cory Schneider was leaving the well-chronicled goalie saga with Roberto Luongo to join the new one with Martin Brodeur. Can’t ask for two better goalies to learn from. Schneider’s first season in New Jersey certainly was an interesting one. Marty was clearly at the end of his career and his play was certainly dipping while Cory was just entering his prime. There was no doubt Schneider was the better goaltender of the two at this point in their careers, but how exactly do you sit Martin Brodeur? You don’t. That’s why Schneider only started 43 games to Brodeur’s 39… so each basically played half the season.
Schneider went 16-15-12 while Brodeur went 19-14-6. However, goal support played a HUGE part in those records. Marty only had a .901 SV% and a 2.51 GAA compared to Schneider’s .921 SV% and 1.97 GAA(!!!!!). For whatever reason, Schneider just could not get any goal support – something the Devils still struggle with to be honest – but whenever Marty played, the team would score a ton for him. I don’t have the exact numbers, but there definitely was a higher goal output when #30 was in the crease.
Then the next season Martin Brodeur went to St. Louis – don’t worry I’m not re-opening that wound – and the gig was Cory’s 100%. Unfortunately, replacing a legend is not an easy thing to do, and I don’t even mean on the ice. Martin Brodeur is BELOVED in New Jersey and rightfully so. However, that meant that every time Cory slipped up even a little he would unfairly get a ton of flak for it. He started the 2014-2015 season a little slow by his standards and fans were not very kind to him. It didn’t matter how good he was or that he would finish the season strong, he was not Martin Brodeur. Instead of being thankful we had this amazing goalie to replace Marty… well you know the rest.
This season, thankfully, the support for Cory Schneider has been way more positive – and I mean how could it not be? He made the All-Star team for the first time in his career; congrats! He is proving that he’s one of the truly elite goaltenders in the NHL and gives the Devils a chance to win every night even when they have no business being in the game. He currently boasts a 22-15-5 record (which would be better with more goal support) while posting a sparkling .929 SV% and 2.03 GAA with four shutouts. Schneider ranks near the top of the league in all those categories. Plus, he’s probably one of the nicest guys in the world.
The Devils are so fortunate to have Cory Schneider tending goal for at least the next seven seasons. There’s not a single goalie in the entire league I would rather have. You’re the best Cory, the very best.