NASHVILLE -- Cory Schneider is sure of one thing -- the NHL will be going down the wrong road if it tries to spark offence by making nets bigger.

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NASHVILLE -- Cory Schneider is sure of one thing -- the NHL will be going down the wrong road if it tries to spark offence by making nets bigger.

The 29-year-old New Jersey Devils starting goalie, the busiest man in the league so far this season with more than 2,509 minutes of crease time, has embraced the process started by the league to investigate ways to shrink goalie equipment.

New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider sprawls across the goal crease to deny the Pittsburgh Penguins a goal.

GENE J. PUSKAR / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES

New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider sprawls across the goal crease to deny the Pittsburgh Penguins a goal.

The committee, under the NHL's Kay Whitmore, had another meeting here this weekend and Schneider said it's the concept that's the difficult part.

"It's still pretty early in the process," Schneider said during the NHL's all-star media day. It's his first appearance at the league's mid-season festival. "We're just trying to come up with a way to as clearly define what we're trying to do as possible.

"It's just a little bit harder than it sounds. There's a lot of pieces, especially with the upper body, parts, areas, how do you protect this while taking away from that. So right now, we're trying to find... it's almost that you'll know it when you see it."

'For me, I like to be part of what's going on. I don't simply want to be told what's happening and not really understand what's being done. It directly impacts my future, my career'‐ Devils goalie Cory Schneider

Schneider wants the NHL to keep pushing on the issue.

"Nothing set in stone yet," he said.

"Ideally we'd like to keep doing this. If we wait until the season is over, it's almost too late. Everyone's trying to push each other to at least have a semblance of an idea of what we want to do. We don't want to be caught with nothing in June and the next season is right around the corner."

Schneider, who gave the AHL's Manitoba Moose three solid seasons before becoming a full-time NHL goalie in 2010, said he had no intention of staying on the sidelines for this debate about equipment.

"I like to be part of what's going on," he said.

"I don't simply want to be told what's happening and not really understand what's being done. It directly impacts my future, my career.

"Players, the league, the association, we're all in agreement we want it to go in a certain direction. I just think when you see a guy off the ice, and you see him on the ice, you shouldn't be stunned at what you see.

"There's technical lingo for the gear... goaltending is an inherently insecure position. You're always checking your stuff, but you look down the ice and see a goalie and wonder why he's a lot bigger than I look and he's 40 pounds lighter than me."

With his first all-star selection, the 25-15-5 Schneider, now 29, said he's humbled to be included.

"It's a great honour, a privilege to be here, to be thought of amongst your peers in this way is special," he said. "You almost have to sit back and realize it... it's a pretty cool feather in your cap to say that. When you look back at your career when everything's said and done, when you're 45, 50, you'll say that was a pretty special thing and in the moment, you just try to take advantage of anything."

This weekend as one of the Metropolitan Division goalies, he'll be mixing it up with the NHL's top skill players.

"I haven't thought too much about the game to be honest," he said.

"I'm just going to make sure I'm warmed up and stretched out. Maybe we'll see some two-pad stacks and poke-checks. Maybe the guys won't appreciate the poke-checks so I'll keep those out. I don't want to hurt anybody."

Schneider will be sporting a pair of custom-made pads for the event, featuring interlocking guitars.

On that theme, he met country star Amy Grant Friday and had a tour of the famous Ryman Auditorium.

"She was fantastic," Schneider said.

"I've known of her and it was so fun to meet her.

"I've never been a super musical guy. I love music and wish I was better at it, but I've tried to teach myself how to play the guitar just as a hobby, because when you're young and in the minors, you've got to pick up something. But by no means do I profess to being a music connoisseur.

"The pads, that was kind of brought to me from Vaughn. I was a little hesitant but I'm not really that flashy and I keep things pretty simple but the league was all on board for it.

"Best case is that I get to keep them and auction them off for a charity of some kind. That alone will be worth doing it."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca