Cory Schneider headed to Europe

Vancouver Canucks starting-goalie-to-be Cory Schneider has signed with Swiss hockey team HC Ambri Piotta, the team announced Wednesday.

Schneider told ESPN earlier this week that he was close to a deal to play in Switzerland, where he is qualified as a citizen. He had been holding out from playing in Europe in hopes of the NHL settling on a new collective bargaining agreement.

His contract with HC Ambri Piotta will run through December, a source told ESPN.

"Now that (the NHL) has canceled games [through Dec. 14], it's time to look a little harder," Schneider said.

Schneider's family is of Swiss descent, and his father filed paperwork when the goalie was 18 to make him eligible to be a citizen, so he doesn't count against the Swiss league's import rules.

A former first-round pick for the Canucks, Schneider is expected to become Vancouver's regular goalie whenever the NHL resumes play.

Last season Schneider split time with Roberto Luongo, who has been rumored to be on the trading block. Schneider was 20-8-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average, cementing his future as the starter with a strong performance in the postseason. In eight career playoff games, he has a .940 save percentage and a 1.91 goals-against average.

Schneider has been one of the most outspoken players during the NHL's lockout and a regular on conference calls, spreading the information to teammates and fellow union members. He's also on the NHLPA's negotiating committee.

"It's our job and the PA's job to spread the message to anybody else interested," Schneider said.

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun was used in this report.