In the summer of 2012 I was forced to confront the idea that my favourite Canuck, Roberto Luongo would be traded as all of the drama with Schneider had evolved and it led to this writing this post that August:
Today I am forced to confront the reality that Roberto Luongo has indeed been traded and being led to write yet another post about the respect that he deserved and still deserves.
The writing has been on the wall but that does not mean I am not sad about the outcome. My heart slightly broke when the news was revealed but I am glad for Luongo that he gets a fresh start. Vancouver did not appreciate what they had in Luongo or respect him particularly well in the last three years. From many of the fans to the local media, it somehow became lost just how much Luongo has done for the Canucks franchise and somewhere along the way this city decided that they no longer supported LU.
How could everyone forget what Luongo did for this team? Shall I remind you? 6 division championships(6 playoff berths), 2 President trophies, 1 Western Conference Championship, 1 Stanley Cup Final appearance (all the way to game 7!), oh and did I mention his 2 Olympic GOLD medals?! In 439 regular season games with the Canucks Luongo posted a 252-137-50 record while posting 38 shut outs. He is the franchise leading goal-tender in wins and shutouts and will go down in history as one of the BEST Canucks players of all time.
No matter what the media would write or dictate the fans to think, Roberto always found a way to put his best game on the ice. When he was winning this city loved him and erupted in endless LUUUUUU cheers…but if he lost or let in a bad goal the love turned to taunting and saying things like he was not dependable. His ability to win big games came into question until the 2010 Olympics came calling in his very own Canuck rink. Think back to overtime in the gold medal game…LU makes a big save, Sid scores the BIGGEST goal of the tournament and the LU and Crosby cheers that erupted in the arena were deafening.
The season that followed the gold medal season…the 2010-2011 season was magical and nearly perfection with the exception of the final game of the Stanley Cup final. It was the most thrilling ride that any Canucks team has taken the city on since the spring of 1994 and Roberto Luongo was at the center of it all. It was incredible to watch as it happened…but in the aftermath of game 7, all eyes of the media placed the blame not so much on the team as a whole but on one individual…Luongo took it all. Hate to break to everyone but as much as you need saves from your goalie which they did get…you also need goals from the team in front of you which they did not get in that last game.
It was not the perfect storybook ending that we had all hoped for…but it was an incredible run. The following season Luongo and the team repeated as President Trophy winners BUT instead of an incredible run were met with an upset from the LA Kings in the first round. It was the end of that series when the team chose to start Cory Schneider for the final three games that the writing seemed to be on the wall that the end was not only near but was here for Luongo. The hints had started to come earlier than the playoffs when the crowd jeered Luongo more than once at home in favour of Schneider.
The summer began with Luongo being willing to waive his no-trade-clause and Schneider being re-signed to a 3-year contract. It seemed very clear the direction that was going to be taken…and then the 2012 lockout happened putting everything on hold. No one knew if there would even be a season. The powers that be between the NHL and the NHLPA finally came to an agreement that saw a shortened 48-game regular season begin in late January 2013. The season started with the rotation of Schneider and Luongo and AV’s infamous coin…but eventually it became the Schneider team and Luongo seemed once again to be on his way out. The trade deadline came and went…the season once again ended with an early exit and no change had come.
Luongo expected that he would not be returning to the Canucks and a trade seemed inevitable with Scheider in prime position again. The draft came and a trade finally happened…but it was not Luongo that was traded…Schneider was sent to the New Jersey Devils. The end of the saga seemed to have arrived. Fast forward to this season…Lack signed on to backup Luongo. Both goalies had some great moments…and all seemed fine…until Luongo was injured not once but twice and Lack was put in the spotlight. That spotlight around Lack started to get bigger (not of his own choosing) and Luongo unbeknownst to himself was slowly being forced back into the corner he previously shared with Schneider.
That corner became ever more evident when it was revealed that Lack would be starting in the Heritage Classic game over the franchise goalie Luongo. Fans while they support Lack, were disappointed in the mistreatment of Luongo who more than deserved to play in that game. I love Eddie Lack and his playing style and he has been the absolute epitome of support and class to the team, fans and Luongo. He did not ask for the game…all he did was play when told and was forced to face the fans first dislike of him in the net…during the Heritage Classic as the entire arena chanted WE WANT LU. That was the end of the line. Fast forward to two days later and the trade that everyone had expected for nearly three years finally happened. Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for goalie Jacob Markstrom & forward Shawn Matthias.
Yes it was a trade that we all expected to happen at some point but that does not mean it does not make me sad. It is the end of an era. Luongo did a lot of good for this franchise but was never properly appreciated by this city or the fans. Luongo deserved better and I hope that in Florida, he gets the respect that he has always deserved. All the good things he did, seemed to have been forgotten by many in all the drama that unfolded in the last few years. Roberto Luongo deserved better in Vancouver and he definitely still deserves better from this city. He has more than earned the respect of his peers and fans for everything he did for the Canucks franchise. All I can say is thank-you, to Roberto Luongo for an incredible 8 seasons and being the epitome of class through the good times and the bad. Thank-you also for helping me love this crazy game called hockey even more than I already did. I will still cheer LUUUUUUUU every single time Florida plays and #1 is between the pipes. You will be missed in Vancouver, but you deserve a fresh start. All the best to #1 as he begins a new chapter with the Panthers.
Here’s a few tributes to my favourite former Canuck:
I will also miss Lu’s hilarious sense of humour:
One last note. In his leave, Luongo advised to Vancouver to take care of Eddie Lack and I hope that this city actually listens. Lack like Luongo, deserves respect. Lack had the utmost respect for Luongo. It has not been an easy few days for Eddie as he never expected this moment and it must have been one heck of a shock to see his mentor sent to Florida. The weight of an entire city is now on Lack’s shoulders…that is an insane amount of pressure in his rookie season. I suggest, that we take Luongo’s advice from the very beginning of Eddie’s tenure by supporting our goalie in way that this city never has before. It sounds like a refreshing approach no?
As always, until next time, nuck said.