VANCOUVER - Cory Schneider's patience is starting to wear out.
The Vancouver Canucks goaltender said Monday he will look to play in Europe if the NHL lockout lasts much longer. Schneider plans to go home to the Boston area for American Thanksgiving and then explore his options in Switzerland, where he would be considered a domestic player because his grandfather was born there.
"It'll be another week, so we'll see if the talks have gone anywhere, and if not we'll have to open the door to that possibility again," he said Monday after skating with some of his teammates at the University of British Columbia.
Players have been locked out since the previous deal expired Sept. 15.
Schneider, who displaced Roberto Luongo as Vancouver's starter in the Stanley Cup playoffs, said a couple of Swiss clubs have expressed interest, based on his dual citizenship.
Like most of the Canucks' core players, he has waited to see how negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement played out rather than head overseas. While some players, such as Daniel and Henrik Sedin, have chosen to stay in Vancouver because they have children in school and do not want to disrupt their routines, Schneider remained on the West Coast even though he had more flexibility.
But as the lockout period lengthens, the Marblehead, Mass., native is becoming more anxious to stay in top form by playing meaningful games rather than working out informally with his teammates.
"If the season's cancelled, then it's hugely important, because I'm at a point in my career where I can't really sit around for 18 months and not play any games," he said. "Just as an athlete and as a professional, you want to compete and do your job. If that's the only available option, then I think you have to take it pretty seriously before (the collective bargaining agreement) gets fixed."
Schneider, a member of the NHL Players Association's bargaining committee, made the comments before league and union representatives were to meet in New York City later Monday. He was glad to see the discussions being held after the NHL had proposed a two-week moratorium on talks, but he was not overly optimistic that the latest negotiations would produce meaningful results.
Noting the final version of the deal won't be much different than what's been proposed thus far, he said progress must be made "before it's too late" and a full NHL season is scrapped for the second time since 2004-05.
"It's fun being around your teammates," he said. "That's what a lot of guys miss the most, being in the locker-room, being with your friends and teammates, and having a big group like we have here makes it easier to motivate yourself and push and get better. But at the same time, I think we're all going a little mad doing these scrimmages and practices. We want to get back to competing."
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