Louis Domingue Has Been Called Up and Cory Schneider is Likely Headed Down, as a Wavering Career Has Officially Been Met with Waivers
The writing was on the wall. I presume most Devils' fans were much like myself in not considering it priority reading while keeping their eyes trained on the distraction that's been a largely disappointing start to a much anticipated season, but the writing was definitely on the wall.
The anticipatory trade to bring in a somewhat proven player at the position. The back-to-back starts given to a 22-year-old assumed starter of a team whose back is somehow already against the ropes. You'd have to have kept your head down longer than one of the poor bastards in a Scott Stevens' greatest hits highlight package not to notice the potential end of NHL days coming for Cory Schneider. Your ears may have instead picked up the boisterous bitching of a fanbase made frustrated by those actually playing, but the Devils' reliance on Mackenzie Blackwood (who - to his credit - has steadily improved since looking about as out of sorts as his disheveled surroundings in early October) spoke volumes of their hesitancy in giving their six million dollar man even one more chance to prove himself playable.
That, however, doesn't make today's news any harder to hear. Regardless of whether or not you've remained one of the few battered and beaten Cory Schneider apologists over the last couple of seasons (as I have), his demotion should be treated as a somber chapter in the insanely under-appreciated career of a player who hasn't passed a single buck while being dealt more unrelentingly crappy hands than a first-time father. The truth of the matter is that the prime of an elite talent at the goaltender position died for the sins of a franchise that refused to rebuild despite being given no other viable option. The trade that brought Cory Schneider to New Jersey in the first place made the hole he had to help dig out of even deeper. Yet still, nary a finger was pointed by a consummate professional whose finest hours were as phenomenal as they were forgettable, since they were mostly spent cleaning up an irredeemable mess that was of anything but his own making.
I still don't think we've gotten the whole story on the "cramp" that he suffered in the season opener. Ever since a guy who ended last season on a high note and continued to ride it into a pretty damn impressive preseason was pulled on what ended up being a completely fucked foreshadowing of an evening, he's looked far closer to the same player who was as likely to find a timely save as he was to collect an unprecedentedly elusive win for a full calendar year. Whatever the case may be, some catastrophic combination of physical (lower body) and mental (lower confidence) injury has him suffering a fate that is only as earned as it is unfair. The latter obviously comes part and parcel with professional sports, but if justice were as poetic as it claims then it should be on its way to intervene and save #35 from riding a goddamn bus in Binghamton.
It's more possible than ever before that we've seen the last of Cory Schneider in a (New Jersey) Devils' jersey. His immediate future is far more dependent on a bunch of factors unseen and third-party performances ahead than it is whatever explanation was offered in what sure sounded like a Repunzel-esque saving of a proud veteran's face...
You don't send someone making 12 million dollars over the next two seasons through waivers if you give a damn about them being picked up off them (regardless of how fiscally irresponsible it would be for another team to do so). The Devils can paint the toilet gold but they can't totally suppress the stink of the shit in it. This was done for the short-term benefit of a team that's going to need to give Mackenzie Blackwood a break at some point, not the benefit of a netminder who has been steady in only his struggles as his opportunities have mostly been met with personal and organizational failures.
Cory Schneider needed a fast start even more desperately than his team did, and I'd say they each played their own counterproductive part in creating the type of awkwardly extended impasse that is typically seen via strangers trying to pick a side in a narrow and crowded hallway. Mackenzie Blackwood pushed on through and provided some help in getting the Devils out of their own way, and in doing so has made expendable someone whose leadership alone can't validate his price tag. That is why the clear contingency plan that was Louis Domingue has already been called into action, not because a 33 year-old needs more game-like practice reps.
Again, it's impossible to know where the relationship goes from here. However, as this particularly thankless page in it gets turned, I won't allow someone who was absolutely alone in dumping buckets of water on a franchise that was in about as much flux as a raging forest fire to go without gratitude. It certainly trending strongly in the direction of Cory Schneider's once-promising career being made a blatant casualty of Lou Lamoriello's outright refusal to push a reset button instead of the snooze button in the wake of an alarming need for a new era of New Jersey Devils' hockey. Therefore, if we are getting as close to goodbye as it appears then I'll be damned if I let anyone consider the loss of a long-dedicated leader anything remotely close to a good riddance.