It is well chronicled what the Hawks have done to Vancouver in the postseason, and vice versa, and how that team, more than any, helped to polarize the goaltending position in the ‘goalie graveyard’ that is Vancouver. Against Chicago, Roberto Luongo became a mere mortal to many. A goaltender who could not win the big game and who let teams get in his head. It allowed fans to begin to wonder about 1st Round pick Cory Schneider, and whether or not he could be the cure that finally ails the goaltending dilemma in Vancouver.
It was against Chicago where Alain Vigneault gave Schneider his first opportunity at postseason success. I wondered aloud, if Luongo lost game seven that season, if then that may have been his last hurrah in Blue and Green, and just who knows what the final result then may have been if Alex Burrows didn’t put the Chelsea Dagger in the Hawks season that magical Game 7 OT.
Fool me once, shame on you….fool me twice? Surely, after Luongo was supplanted as the starting goaltender once again in the postseason, in favour of Schneider it had to be the end of Luongo’s time in Vancouver. Schneider had finally won the job, Luongo would be traded, at his request, and fans would get ready to fall in love with Eddie ‘The Stork’ Lack as Schneider began his first full season as undisputed #1.
Then, something incredible happened. Fans, to me, became incredulous in this age of high priced, whiny millionaire superstars, at how calm, cool and collected Roberto Luongo handled the trade speculation through the summer of 2012. No demanding a trade. There’s been no sulking and no digs at the organization he came within a win away of winning a Stanley Cup with. Free agency passed, and many people became aware of @strombone1 an anonymous twitter handle that many began to speculate was fact, none other than good ‘ole Bobby Lou. And if in fact it is (and being honest, I know I’m not alone when I say I am certain it is so) then Roberto Luongo allowed his personality, quick wit, and sense of humor shine. Hilarious reading, and if you are not following on twitter, you are missing out.
Perhaps, I began to hear Canuck nation say, we misjudged the person? Misjudged his character! And I began to hear, amongst the Canuck faithful I know around here, that they may actually miss the guy once he left town and that there could be seller’s remorse at play here. That perhaps offensive ineptitude and a myriad of injuries to key players had just as much to do with not winning a championship. Fans began to hear from fans in Leaf Nation, among others, that they would embrace having one of the best goalies in the world play for their team. Many began to really wonder if it’s true; that you don’t know what you’ve got, ’til it’s gone.
I’ll be completely honest here. Roberto Luongo always has been and always will be loved by me, as one of the greatest players to ever don the jersey of the Vancouver Canucks. Does this make me not like or appreciate all that Cory Schneider has done in his 8 plus seasons with the franchise? Absolutely not. Unfairly, he has toiled in the minors and in a ball cap on NHL benches for FAR too long. All he has shown in his body of work, over the last 3-4 years, and 60 starts, is that he is ready to be a #1 NHL goaltender, and a better than good one. I had written off Luongo being in Vancouver this past summer, and was ready to embrace the Schneider era. Yet, here we are. And just what now, are you supposed to do?
I don’t have a good answer here. But I know it’s not fair to Roberto Luongo or to Cory Schneider. As a fan I feel blessed, as EVERY single game, night in and night out, I honestly don’t care who is getting the tap on the shoulder, as I expect to see one of the best goaltenders in the world give the Vancouver Canucks an opportunity to win a hockey game.
Mike Gillis has a problem. And the only reason it’s a problem, and not a full scale crisis, is because he has two goaltenders who have handled this situation better than anybody could possibly hope to expect, in this player – owner ‘give me more’ era. If Luongo is seething that he has not been moved, I sure don’t know it and the same can be said of Schneider who finds himself sitting on the bench yet again. The two athletes have handled themselves, and the situation, with utmost class, for years now. But something HAS to give.
Is Schneider’s contract moveable? You better believe it is, and there would be just as many suitors, if not more, for the simple reasons that he makes less money, for substantially less years, and is younger. Do I blame Mike Gillis for this mess? Of course, you have to point the finger here, as he has not pulled the trigger on a deal. But when you are trying to sell a Rolls Royce, no matter how many miles on it, you do not settle for people’s offers to purchase for the going rate of a Cavalier. It will be the most important, defining transaction in Gillis’ tenure, and good on him for not catering to public and media pressure, and just simply taking the best offer if that offer isn’t fair in value at all.
I’ve given up on guessing. I’m just glad that we have two consummate pros in Luongo and Schneider, who have handled a situation as awkward and unpredictable as I have ever seen, in my time watching hockey. Until something happens, I am going to continue doing what I’ve done the last few years. Be thrilled with the quality ‘tender I see in net and be ready to yell LOUUUU or DEEESCHNEID every time they make a ridiculous save.
Follow me on Twitter: @RayRay2233