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article imageOp-Ed: Canuck fan counts the ways he's happy Roberto Luongo is gone

By Marcus Hondro     Mar 30, 2014 in Sports
It's over! Done! Yes, at last the unthinkable but constantly thought of has occurred, now nearly a month ago, and Roberto Luongo was dealt back to the Florida Panthers. It's taken time to process but I am ready to speak. First word out of the gap?
Hooray!
Yeah, hooray. It was time already. Past time. The Luongo Saga had been turning into an annoying episode and there were a few things, or more than a few, about his tenure in Vancouver that were not so very great. And there was some fault to be laid at the skates of Bobby Lou.
Yeah, he was hardly alone in being responsible for that circus of 'will they trade him/won't they trade him.' Canucks GM Mike Gillis played as big a role, but Luongo and his contract and list of teams he would or would not go to factored in. And there are reasons why fans might be glad to see the back of a guy who, along with King Richard Brodeur and Kirk McLean, is among the 3 greatest goalies the franchise has ever had.
The Roberto Luongo List
So without further ado let's get to some of the reasons some Vancouver Canuck fans will join me in being happy to bid adieu to Bobby Lou:
1) Let's begin with something minor: Anyone else getting tired of feeling sorry for the guy? He'd been put through the ringer, losing his starter job when the L.A. Kings beat him in the first two games of their series in 2011-12 (the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup and in total as a Canuck, he lost playoff rounds in consecutive years to Anaheim, Chicago, Boston and L.A., all of whom went on to win the Cup). He was a gold medal goalie, still one of the best in the game, but he had to endure a year as a backup to Cory Schneider and us Canuck fans had to endure a soap opera that seemed endless.
Other reasons to feel sorry for Luongo include all the shutouts he lost late in games and to top off the feel-sorry-for-Luongo sentiment, there he was sitting on the bench at the Heritage Classic in March. He looked grumpy and it was hard to blame him. However, the required feelings of pity were unwelcome and felt stale.
2) This one starts with positive things from Luongo's first season as a Canuck, 2006-07. He took them into the playoffs, which they'd missed in 2005-06, and won 47 games, a Canuck record, one shy of the NHL record, which Martin Brodeur set that same season (helped by the advent of the shootout). He did great things that year, including shutting out the Montreal Canadiens in his hometown after spending the night in a hospital when he was hit in the throat by a puck in practice. His postseason career began with a marathon game (4 overtime periods) and a 5-4 win; he stopped 72 shots, one shy of Kelly Hrudey's record 73-save playoff game in 1987.
But here comes the but: after beating Dallas in 7, Vancouver lost in 5 to the Ducks, and the final loss you could hang on Luongo. Sure, he was brilliant in game 5, stopping 56 shots despite enduring a bout of diarrhea (Dany Sabourin made a brief appearance in his place). But on the winning goal in the second OT, Luongo wanted a penalty called on a hit by Scott Niedermayer on Jannik Hansen. He took his eye off of the puck to appeal to a ref just as Niedermayer threw a weak shot at the net; a distracted Luongo didn't even see it go in. Game, set, match. Bobby!!!
3) Did Luongo buy the hype surrounding him? It seems he did. Had to play every game. In his second season with the club he played the final 31 games in a row. In late March, he went from Vancouver to Calgary to Denver to Miami to Minnesota and back to Vancouver, in 5 nights, playing 4 games and seeing the birth of his daughter. He could have missed the Minnesota game but no, had to play them all. He and his teammates melted down, losing 7 of their final 8 in an epic collapse to miss the playoffs.
Their was also an incident where he seemed to call out teammates during a game for not clearing a puck, leading to the tying goal and a loss in extra time. Another example of believing his own hype was his decision to become captain. It was Gillis' idea but given the focus goalies require and the need not to become a headline for the wrong reasons, it seemed a poor decision. It lasted two years and can best best described as an abject failure, one brought on by hubris.
4) Here's arguably the most serious Luongo fault: playoff meltdowns. Chicago, that's where it all began (unless you could the Niedermayer goal); the Canucks were tied with the Hawks at 2 games each in the second round in 2009 when Luongo allowed 11 goals in the final two games to lead the way to the Canucks losing in 6. He didn't fare any better against the Hawks in the second round of the 2010 postseason, allowing 23 goals in 6 games. A 7-4 loss in Vancouver to end their season was particularly ugly.
Those meltdowns are matched, perhaps exceeded, by 2011. Yes, that season he slayed the Hawks in 7, finally beating them despite two porous games and after losing the game 6 start to Cory Schneider, and took the team to the Stanley Cup final against the Bruins. But part of the problem with Luongo was how there was so often good and bad mixed. Yes he got to the final, and won three games in it with 2 shutouts, but boy did he discombobulate in Boston, losing 8-1 and 4-0 and then, after the Canucks took a 3-2 games lead with a 1-0 win in Vancouver, he allowed 3 goals in 4:14 in game 6 back in Beantown. The rest is, to the eternal dismay of Canuck fans, history.
5) And let us not forget the bad goals. He'd play great but suddenly flub a routine shot and the man had a habit, despite his work with goalie coaches and tenacity when it came to practice, of being out of position at the worst time. On some goals he seemed desperate and he'd splay himself forward, leaving the net above him vacant and an easy target for shooters. He could play brilliantly and let in a bad angle goal, or when the chips were down do his hurl-himself-toward-the -puck-and-have-it-flipped-over-him thing.
Okay. Done. Finally. I mean there's more, like his desire to be traded back to Florida so he and his family could return to Miami, where his wife is from, but why go on? His saga is over and he is gone, and while the Canucks won't be making the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, they now have two great young goalies in Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom and more cap room to tool up for next season, and beyond. And the soap opera that Luongo was becoming is, mercifully, over at last.
Which, for this fan at least, leads to this - hooray!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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