Big red

Apropos of my previous post on the matter, I expect Cory Schneider to play either tonight or Saturday in the home-and-home series against Calgary.

If I had to bet, I gather that Alain Vigneault would prefer Schneider to play his first game on the road (if for no other reason than to mitigate the local scrutiny).  If that is correct, Schneider is likely to play on Saturday night at the Saddledome Library.

Truth be told, I hold out some concern that Curtis Sanford’s excellent play in Roberto Luongo’s absence might invite consideration that he should get a long run of games in while he can.  Once Luongo returns healthy, Sanford will inevitably return to seeing the ice from behind his teammates on the bench. 

Whatever the merits of playing Sanford, I fear that if the Canucks don’t seize this opportunity to evaluate Schneider meaningfully at the NHL level (i.e. over a period of games and not spot-duty) the decision-making process surrounding what to do once Luongo makes his decision about whether to stay in Vancouver will be woefully inadequate.  In other words, the Canucks simply won’t know what they have on their hands (in terms of either a movable asset or a starting goalie).

It is imperative that the Canucks think long-term in the present circumstances. 

However, this should not be mistaken as sacrificing the immediate future.  To begin with, I find it dubious to assume that Schneider would offer a significant downgrade from Sanford.  Moreover, it is entirely possible for Schneider to get a few games in and if he falters replace him with Sanford. 

Ultimately, the Canucks coaching staff and management has to appreciate that they have a highly regarded prospect with an impressive record of achievement waiting in the wings. 

Making Schneider sit on the bench when a workhorse like Luongo is out for an extended period would be detrimental to both Schneider’s development and the organization’s talent management.

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