VANCOUVER — Cory Schneider grew up a Bruins fan in Marblehead, Mass.
He remained a Bruins fan while playing at Boston College.
But those allegiances changed when he was drafted in the first round by the Canucks in 2004, and as he worked his way through the Vancouver system until establishing himself as star goalie Roberto Luongo's understudy this season.
"My family is Bruins fans, my buddies are, but once you turn pro you kind of stop having a favorite team other than the one you're playing for," Schneider said after Monday's practice at Rogers Arena as the Canucks prepared for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.
Now that the Bruins are the last team standing between his Canucks and a Cup, Schneider has even managed to turn the folks back home against the Bruins. After all, they have a stake in a Vancouver win as well.
"I think most people are rooting for me as opposed to against me," Schneider said. "They'd rather have a day with the Cup as well than see Boston win it."
Even if Schneider's friends and families have switched sides, they're certainly aware of the buzz the Bruins have created in Boston.
"My friends have been saying it's pretty crazy back there," Schneider said. "And I have some firsthand knowledge from seeing how it was with the Red Sox and the Celtics, so to have it be the Bruins is pretty cool."
And Schneider still has enough love of the team he grew up watching to be happy for the Bruins' turnaround.
"I think a lot of people were turned off by the Bruins in the late 90s, early 2000s for just being kind of mediocre," Schneider said. "I think the past three or four years they've done a great job building the brand back up and identifying with the past and bringing those fans back.
"It's such a great sports town with the Celts and the Pats and Sox having so much success this decade, the Bruins were kind of an afterthought for a while," Schneider added. "So to see them come to the forefront and be the main attraction in the city is awesome. There are so many kind of hidden Bruins fans who were around in the 70s with [Bobby] Orr and [Phil] Esposito, then in 90s with [Cam] Neely and [Ray] Bourque, so it's great to see them come back and be supportive."
Schneider is coming off his best season yet, playing a career-high 25 games in the NHL with a 164-2 record, 2.23 GAA and .929 save percentage in the regular season. He's also played three games in the playoffs, including a start in Game 6 against Chicago in the opening round.
"I've felt a part of the team all year," Schneider said. "I've played more than most backups have and I think the other guys trust and respect me. I try to work as hard as I can at practice and contribute in any way I can. I got that one start and it didn't end the way I wanted it to, but hopefully it maybe got some momentum for the team and contributed to the series win somehow."
Schneider left that game early in the third period when he was injured trying to stop a Michael Frolik penalty shot. Frolik scored to tie the game and the Blackhawks won in overtime to force a Game 7 after the Canucks had led the series 3-0, but Vancouver won that seventh game and has gone on to beat Nashville and San Jose to reach the Cup Final for the first time since 1994.
Schneider recovered from his injury and has remained the Canucks' backup goalie throughout their playoff run.
"I'm fine," Schneider said. "It was OK a few days later, so I'm doing fine."
And even though he long ago gave up his allegiance to the Bruins, Schneider, who still lives in the Boston area in the offseason, is happy to have a chance to face his hometown club with a Stanley Cup at stake.
"It's fun," Schneider said. "I don't really care who's in the Final, I just want to win it. So whether it's Boston or anybody else, I don't think it matters to us, but to have family and friends be able to enjoy it the way I am, it's a pretty cool experience."
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