I just finished reading Michael Shermers “The Believing Brain“, an examination of the science behind our beliefs. The following passage sets out the subject of the book. When I read it I immediately thought of Roberto Luongo and his relationship with a significant portion of the Vancouver fanbase:
“We form our beliefs for a wide variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large; after forming our beliefs we then defend, justify, and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments, and rational explanations. Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow. …[O]ur perceptions about reality are dependent on the beliefs that we hold about it. Reality exists independent of human minds, but our understanding of it depends upon the beliefs we hold at any given moment.”
Unfortunately for Luongo, some number of Canuck fans believe that Vancouver will never win as long as he is between the pipes and those views are unlikely to change. If the Canucks had won the Cup last spring, the Anti-Luongo fans would have declared that the Canucks won despite Luongo, and certainly not because of him. If Luongo gives up a bad goal, it’s his fault. If Luongo is beaten on a good chance, heads shake while detractors mutter, “He’s got to make a big save once in a while.” If Luongo is brilliant, we hear “See! He should play like that all the time. He isn’t consistently brilliant.”
It is my belief – and I wish I could tell you that it was the product of reasoned analysis, but I can’t claim my brain works any differently than anyone else’s – that Luongo is an excellent goaltender who for the past decade has been one of the best in the league. Last season was probably the greatest of his career on both a team and individual level. (I won’t bother to “defend, justify, and rationalize that belief with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments, and rational explanations.”) It is enough to say that the idea that someone can be good enough to get to a seventh game of a SCF but not good enough to win it all seems to me to be absurd on the face of it.
Even if Mike Gillis wanted to do something about it, Luongo’s contract is very likely untradeable. He is probably going to be here for years and if Shermer is correct, the anti-Luongo feelings aren’t going to go away either. It is disturbing that so many fans have given up on Luongo, but does it really make a difference?
Probably not. The players will rally around the goaltender. One of the enduring memories from Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four” was the attitude basball players had toward the fans. In private moments we were referred to as know-nothing “clucks” by the athletes. As far as the Canucks are concerned, our cluckitude is being confirmed. This is a very good hockey team that’s going to win a lot of games whether there is an ongoing Luongo controversy or not.
Still, it’s suddenly beginning to feel like it is going to be a long season.