Cory Schneider Set to Join HC Ambrì-Piotta of the Swiss League

Earlier in the week it was announced that the NHL and the NHLPA would bring in a Federal Mediator, a neutral third-party who might help lubricate the acrimonious negotiations between the two sides. Bringing in a mediator seems especially pertinent in light of Wednesday morning’s announcement that Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider has reached an agreement to play with Swiss team HC Ambrì-Piotta, a hockey team that plays in a nation famous for its perpetual neutrality.

Cory Schneider is a big get for Ambrì-Piotta. Not only does he boast the best short-handed save percentage in the NHL, but Schneider has a Swiss passport which, allows him to get around some red tape that usually applies to foreign born players in the Swiss League. The Ambrì-Piotta club represents two small towns (Ambrì and Piotta) and is located in the scenic Levintina valley. In addition to Schneider, Ambrì was employing Habs sniper Max Pacioretty (but ‘Patches’ has now returned to North America) and currently employ former Red Wings forward Jason Williams, and a familiar face in former Canucks winger Richard Park.

Read on past the jump.

During his time in Vancouver Cory Schneider has impressed the team, the local media, and fans with his eloquence, humour and intelligence. He’s consistently managed to articulate the NHLPA’s position without resorting to ad hominem crap, and he’s well informed about even complicated issues like decertification. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when Cory Schneider was named to the NHLPA’s negotiating committee back in June.

There isn’t much optimism among hockey fans right now, so it’s tempting to infer some doom and gloom from Cory Schneider’s decision to go play in Europe – especially since he’s been intimately involved in the negoting process. Obviously I have no idea, and Schneider hasn’t spoken on the record about his decision at the time of this writing, but I suspect it might be more complicated than that.

In an interview in late October with Boston sports talk radio personalities Toucher and Rich, for example, Cory Schneider hinted that he might consider heading to Europe as a way of getting "warmed up" in lieu of a lockout induced, shortened training camp. Here’s the quote:

But for me, Gary mentioned a week long preseason before the season would start if we were to get 82 games in, and as a goalie I need more than a week to get ready. I think I need to see a few games before we start playing. So it’s not the end of the world, but if this is going to take a few more weeks or a month, then I’ve got to start to getting ready."

I think it’s at least possible that Cory Schneider is privately optimistic about a resolution to the lockout being at hand, and is heading over to the Italian speaking part of Switzerland to simulate some preseason action. Hey, it’s a theory.

Schneider is the third Canucks skater to head overseas during the lockout – joining Dale Weise and Jannik Hansen who are plying their trade in Finland and Holland respectively. Here’s our updated "Canucks in Europe" map:

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