This may be one of my only serious-toned pieces I write for PuckBuddys, so don’t get too used to it. My boys in blue and green saw their season come to a surprising and abrupt end this post-season. It was something not many even considered possible going into the playoffs, but it happened. And in typical Canuck fashion, it was riddled with “goalie controversy.”
We all saw Lu sit the bench for games 4 and 5, while my [fantasy] boyfriend Cory Schneider played extremely well in both outings against the Kings. So of course, EVERYONE, and their brother’s dog-walker’s cousin’s nanny, got all up-in-arms over the goaltending situation in Vancouver. Bandwagon Canuck fans were all “TRADE LUONGO!!!!” While the Canuck faithful were all “TRADE LUONGO!!!” (notice the one less exclamation point, that’s important). But thankfully, a lot of fans saw that the three game deficit against the Kings was not Luongo’s fault, and that Lu played well. The problem was defense, and lack of scoring; not goaltending.
So after the brutal overtime loss in game 5, the rumor mill continued to churn at an unprecedented pace until media day press conferences. Of course, Mike Gillis veiled his answers in mystery, as he will always do since he is a great GM. Then there was Luongo’s media availability interview. It seemed like all the reporters were interested in was his view of his future with the Canucks, and appropriately so, because let’s face it, that is what sells newspapers in southwestern BC, and gains readers on sports websites.
The media insisted on hounding Luongo on what he sees in his future. Will you be the starter, the backup, or even in Vancouver at all? Luongo responded as he usually does, moving his head back and forth a lot away from the microphones and saying “uh” a lot. But he also gave some legitimate, no BS answers. He said he would waive the no-trade clause in his contract for a short list of teams, and would be willing to leave Vancouver if it is best for the team.
He was a consummate professional, emphasizing that he puts the team ahead of himself. A very commendable trait to have in a superstar goaltender. What I personally thought was a very classy move by Luongo was the way he praised Schneider for his abilities. He pumped up those tires pretty well.
It was reported that Luongo would give a list of 4-5 teams to management that he would waive the no-trade clause for. I can’t help but speculate as to who is on that list, but my best guesses would be New Jersey, Florida, Toronto, and Tampa Bay.
With Brodeur on the brink of retirement, NJ is in desperate need of a bonafide starting goaltender. Lu says he plans to retire in Florida when he is done playing professional hockey, so the Panthers or the Lightning would be legitimate options; he still has family there, so it’s not a totally out-there possibility. Also, both Florida teams are either playoff contenders, or barely missed, Lu probably wants a post-season contending team to play for. Toronto is in need of goaltending, and Lu could offer them more stability there. Anyway, it’s all conjecture.
Now I want to take a minute and clear up all this “goalie controversy” nonsense. Speaking as a goalie coach, and goalie myself, I do not see a goalie controversy. What I see is one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL. Lu is the only active goaltender to have 5+ consecutive season with a save percentage at or above 91%. He may start slow, but he puts up very impressive numbers. Schneider is a stellar young goaltender with massive potential.
If he were a member of almost any other team in the NHL, he would be the starter without a doubt. But all that does not create a goaltending controversy; it creates serious depth.
Horrible outings, followed by like, what, 6543542 minutes of shutouts? Perfect example. So when Luongo goes through a slump, no big deal, it happens. When Schneider goes on a hot streak, awesome! When a team has two goaltenders who can win big games, it’s a blessing, not a curse. The only reason people think there is a controversy is their obsession with contract terms and salaries. Is Lu’s contract long and lucrative for him? Absolutely. Does that really matter when the team is trying to win games? Not really, no. So my advice to Canuck fans, shut up and be thankful that we have two AMAZING goalies. At least for now.
If Lu is traded, or if Schneider is traded, we still have Lack waiting in Chicago. Goaltending depth is not a big issue. And if you just don’t want to see either of them go because you’ll miss them, take a page out of Lu’s book, and put the team ahead of one player.
Ok, end of rant, analysis, and advice. 😛 Follow me on twitter here: @GayPuckPrincess