Luongo Benching Changes the Big Picture

Roberto Luongo will look to the Heavens for a win in Game 7

Alain Vigneault decided to sit Roberto Luongo Sunday night amid speculation that the decision was perhaps “influenced” by GM Mike Gillis. Maybe the Vancouver Canucks brass needs a few pair of glasses because, right or wrong, the choice to bench Roberto Luongo was incredibly short-sighted.

This was a decision no doubt spurred by desperation. A choice that is at best questionable in the short-term. This is a poorly thought out knee-jerk reaction that entails more problems than which goalie is the right man to start Game 7 (Roberto Luongo is starting FYI).

A Canuck future that was as bright as could be hardly a week ago has suddenly turned as bleak as a Hurricane Katrina. There is panic in Vancouver but the panic is not directed where it should be. They’re on the right track though.

The sudden questions concerning Roberto Luongo’s ridiculous contract are almost amusing. Seriously, are people just figuring this out now? Mike Brophy of Sportsnet addresses the issue of Luongo’s contract and what goes through the mind of a GM in crippling his team with an absurd contract in his latest column. It’s too bad there wasn’t this concern from the media when Luongo signed his contract or better yet prior to him signing the contract. However, when things go wrong we see people speak like they knew it all along. Come on now.

Related: Note to NHL GM’s – This is Getting out of Hand

Regardless, it is all in the past and the fact of the matter is that the Vancouver Canucks have to deal with a terrible contract. By starting Cory Schneider in game 6 the franchise made the worst move possible for the future of the club. No, they didn’t make a trade or give out another bad contract.

What they did was possibly ruin the psyche of an already emotionally fragile goaltender.

Mike Gillis calls himself a calculated person. Well if he was the one who handed down the fateful decision he sure made a major miscalculation. In an attempt to save the season of the team he assembled, his work that he indirectly praised, and the embarrassment of having to explain what happened to his supposedly even keel team, he looks to have made the decision that obliterated the confidence of his franchise goaltender.

The Canucks may go onto win game 7, but what if Luongo goes onto have another stinker or two. You might feel inclined to ride Cory Schneider. Sure, that’s all peaches and roses now but Schneider isn’t going to be around much longer. The guy is too good to be a backup and if the Canucks don’t trade him Schneider will be out the door faster than the Canuck fans jumping off the bandwagon once his contract is up.

What will happen in 2 or 3 years when the Canucks are in the playoffs and there is no Cory Schneider to fall back on. There has been an immeasurable amount doubt placed in the already uncertain Luongo. It is firmly entrenched in his brain that he can’t win the big game. The Olympics don’t count. Luongo played a mediocre tournament for a stacked Canadian roster

Roberto Luongo has already had trouble mentally in the tough times but having lost the vote of confidence from the people who had faith in 12 more years is a killer. Luongo already has problems handling the heat of playoff scrutiny and being told that he can’t win the big game doesn’t bode well for the future. How is the man supposed to have any confidence in himself?

Adversity is given in a Stanley Cup run. Look through your crystal ball. Do any of you see Luongo being able to handle the hardships after this incident?

Didn’t think so.

Luongo was forced to come into game 6 after Cory Schneider cramped up. Luongo was fighting the puck every time he touched it. He looked as though his more than nervous. If you combine every synonym to nervous that would probably define what Luongo was feeling when he was thrust into action during game 6.

Fans need to stop playing the Chicago card. It’s getting a bit old. Luongo is not a big game player but it’s not Chicago. It just so happens that he faces Chicago in the majority of his minimal, but growing playoff experience. Correlation does not equal causation folks.

He played outstanding in the first 3 games of the series. Everyone seems to have forgotten that at this point. Other than the first goal in game 4 that he let slip past his glove hand there haven’t been any bad goals and anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m not one to defend the $10 million man.

Sitting him out against Chicago and then playing him in the next series doesn’t mean he will miraculously return to vintage Luongo simply because he is playing a team that’s not named the Chicago Blackhawks. It doesn’t work like that. Athletes don’t gain their confidence back with the snap of a finger.

This decision that the Vancouver Canucks made to bench Roberto Luongo in game 6 may not have immediate repercussions but if an early exit is in tea leaves, make no mistake; they will pay for it in the future. It might be easy to trade Luongo’s 12 year contract on your PS3 but trading virtually untradeable contracts isn’t as easy in real life as it is on NHL ’11.

The Vancouver Canucks are stuck with Roberto Luongo and in this thoughtless decision they seem to have overlooked that.

The season is not all lost but if Roberto Luongo continues his Lebron-like clutch play he will have the fans chanting Luchoke in Vancouver and when they do they can look back on the game 6 decision to start Cory Schneider.

Related: Roberto Luongo the Ex-Factor

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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About Chris Ross
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9 Responses to Luongo Benching Changes the Big Picture

  1. BackCheck says:

    Great read Chris. Good, solid points though I find it hard to accept that El Stoppo has a such a fragile psyche. Not sayin’ you’re wrong though. Just difficult getting my head around the idea Loungo has a fragile psyche. Obviously you marshal the evidence well. And, pressure like any anxiety is a subjective, highly personal and private demon. Me, I have a thing about heights. Not rational or logical but I still get the willies.

    Always easier to slay someone else dragon than our own, no? HOF goalie Jacques Plante once said, “How would you like it if a big red light went on and 18,000 people booed every time you made a mistake at work?”

  2. Bobby Charts says:

    Good read. Game 7 should be a dandy. Canucks should win. And I agree with some plays in all sports there as fraggile as fine china wear. kinda of crazy. Thanks to you I will keep a eye on him,lol. I hope he pans out for the fans sake.

  3. Jason Patt says:

    Excellent read. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens if Luongo sucks again tonight. I’m sure the Nucks would look to deal him, but like you said, who’s gonna take a notorious playoff choke-artist with that type of contract. They may just be stuck with him, which as a Hawks fan, is perfectly fine with me.

  4. Awesome article, definitely one of your best efforts yet. Game 7 will be great, can’t wait.

  5. Mike Gillis says:

    Show what you know kid. You can’t possibly think you know better than me and my proven management and coaching team?

    Didn’t think so.

    (and stop plagiarizing every idea out there on this topic.)

  6. goalieblog35 says:

    I firmly believe the decision to start Schneider in game 6 was the right move. When it comes to Luongo’s mental game, it is more important to look at the particular situation the Canucks were in: facing the Blackhawks in the playoffs, a situation in which Luongo is more prone to breaking down mentally. The Blackhawks know Luongo, and Luongo knows that. Chicago doesn’t know Cory Schneider, so it was logical to think they would have more trouble scoring on him (which was true if we take away Cory’s puckhandling mistakes, he was solid on his angles and reactions all game).

    Luongo stepping into game 6 and fighting the puck was not surprising. When was the last time he had to enter a game cold? He didn’t expect to play that game, and didn’t prepare mentally of physically like he normally would.

    Luongo has been in tough situations before (i.e. his tenure in Florida) and is a very mentally strong goaltender, Chicago just knows how to push his buttons. Unlike a guy like Turco, or Mason (CBJ, or DP, a Luongo slump doesn’t last long. And after an amazing performance in game 7, Luongo’s confidence is sky high. Look at his post-game interview, he looked and sounded more confident than ever. Big game 7 wins will do that for a goaltender.

    As for the losing Schneider scenario, it’s true, he could be a number 1 guy on most teams in this league, but we shouldn’t be overly concerned about losing him (though he is one of my favorite tenders and I’m a huge Canucks fan). The Canucks organization knows very well how to manage goaltenders. Eddie Lack performed very well for the Moose this season, and so far in the playoffs. The Canucks routinely draft very talented goaltenders out of colleges instead of juniors (i plan on posting a breakdown of the differences soon), and they let their goaltenders develop in the AHL for a season or two before bringing them up. If the Canucks lose Schneider, Lack is more than capable of stepping up to fill that role.

  7. jpark37 says:

    Good points, thank god the nucks didn’t have to live through the experience of losing game 7. Luongo has a chance to become a legend in Vancouver and I think he’s had his share of failures and its time for some success.

    Keep reading at

  8. Pingback: Round ll Playoff Preview « BackCheck's Blog

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