Luongo’s Struggles are Incomprehensible for World

No one gets it.

Sportsnet columnist Mark Spector recently wrote his open letter to the Canuck fans. Berating them for jeering Luongo after his latest struggles.

He thinks he knows Luongo. He thinks he understands why Canuck fans are angry. He thinks he gets it.

Boy, is he off.

Let’s get this straight. What the fans have done at Canuck games to Luongo isn’t fair. The sarcastic cheering and outright booing is pathetic. It may be a fans right to boo these multi-million dollar athletes but you would think as a fan you would understand that players are humans as well and that they could use your support. But it isn’t everyone. The boos and sarcastic cheers didn’t come from 18,000 strong.

Anyways, Mark Spector presents an issue that many NHL fans seem to be on board with. A hate for Canuck fans. Apparently, we look like cry babies for constantly complaining about Luongo’s fluctuating play. Spector asks does “the baby need a new goaltender?”

Yeah, in fact we do.

He points out irrelevant evidence that a high school law student would be embarrassed to see. Following his question to the Vancouver babies he writes “we thought you already had a Canadian Olympic team starter, complete with the Vezina and Jennings dress-up bundle. Can’t we just send along the camper? Or the puppy waterpark set? Oh, that’s not good enough for the Vancouver baby? They want more than that? We see.”

The worst evidence he gives has to be his mention of Luongo’s Olympic appearance. Luongo was mediocre at best during the 2010 tournament and was the beneficiary of a stacked Canadian team featuring a fourth line almost any other country would have been happy having as their first.

Besides, Luongo’s past is completely unrelated to what he is doing now. He played unbelievably in his first two seasons as a Canuck but since then he has regressed. He had a good stretch last year but came up short when the Canucks needed him most.

Related: Roberto Luongo the Ex-Factor

What’s worse though is that Spector’s narrow-minded approach ignores so many other important factors that make Vancouver fans irate towards Luongo’s play.

He fails to bring up Luongo’s utter failure as a leader and a captain. Luongo hasn’t been shy in the past to throw his own teammates under the bus in public. He comes across as a baby. Jealous of the praise Tim Thomas was receiving, Luongo decided to speak up and disrespect him. He followed his trash talk up by letting in 6 goals.

Luongo is a jerk. He isn’t endearing to most fans anymore. Canuck fans used to love him before they started to truly understand the man behind the mask. He has lost their respect.

People adore Kesler because he is a warrior. Luongo is the opposite. No one wants to go to battle for or with him.

You obviously can’t blame Luongo for assuring financial security to his great-grandchildren but it is frustrating for a fan base to see their highest paid player struggle so mightily.

Contrary to what Spector implies, Luongo is not one of the best goalies in the NHL. His Lebron-esque choking, general lack of ability to come up with a big save and uncanny aptitude at giving out freebies at the worst time don’t show up on the stat sheet.

It wasn’t Luongo’s fault against the Blackhawks or the Bruins last year. However, he didn’t steal anything. He is paid to steal games. The failure of the Canuck squad to come up with goals while dominating doesn’t excuse Luongo’s personal failure to dominate on a consistent basis.

You would hope that your franchise goaltender can be the best goalie out there on a regular basis. The goal is to expect reliability out of someone who is paid to be a difference maker. Too often he is the difference maker in the wrong way.

The Luongo apologists are everywhere north of the border. Virtually every commentator you see feels the need to defend the man. I don’t get it.

Mike Gillis came on the Team 1040, a local Vancouver radio station, to defend his goaltender. Well, of course he did. What else is he going to do for the person who he so foolishly signed to that ridiculous 12 year contract?

Gillis says that the fan reaction is a hangover from last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs. No, the Stanley Cup was just a few more bullet points on a list stretches as long as the Amazon River.

Mark Spector tries to separate Vancouver from other “normal, everyday” Canadian hockey towns. Apparently, the fans in Vancouver are worse than the same Montreal fans who booed Carey Price in the first preseason game last year following the departure of temporary folk hero Jaroslav Halak.

Preseason? Come on man!

Maybe Mark Spector should imagine if those Montreal fans were stuck with Luongo for the past few years.

There is a cultural divide between the world of hockey fans and the Vancouverites. It’s like we are from different worlds and unless you are from that world you can never fully understand the reasoning behind some things. It’s why I’ll never fully understand the why Philadelphia Eagle fans were so hard on Donovan Mcnabb.

It’s the same with Luongo. The rest of the world knows why Vancouver fans are angry with Luongo but they will never actually understand it.

Vancouver fans are no different from the rest. Despite Donovan Mcnabb’s success, his relationship with Eagle fans was very hot and cold. The Canuck faithful would kill to have Luongo playing up to a young Mcnabb’s level.

It has been 40 long years without a championship in Vancouver and Mark Spector finishes by saying “[We] want it all, and [we] want it now.”

Yeah, how impatient are we?

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 happily return the favour.

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15 Responses to Luongo’s Struggles are Incomprehensible for World

  1. Jsportsfan says:

    The bigger question is. Do you think Corey Schneider can be a number one goalie? I do think Canuck fans are being too harsh on Luongo but the media are being too easy on him. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. Great post!

  2. perry says:

    How are you so sure that Luongo’s teammates don’t want to battle for him? Luongo showed up for games in all 4 series last year, the same can’t be said for his teammates. And before anyone spouts off about Schneider, no team has won with a goalie platoon rotation EVER.

    • Ryan says:

      Define goalie platoon if your referring to splitting the season evenly or almost evenly between two goalies than you are wrong. When the islanders won four Stanley cups Billy Smith played at most 46 games during the regular season. During the Oilers back to back championships 84-85 Grant Fuhr played 86 regular season games between those two seasons. when Detroit won the cup in in 96 Chris Osgood played 47 games while Mike Vernon played the entire post season. Even during Detroits last cup in 2008 and there finals lost to the penguins Osgood didnt play the bulk of the regular season but still got the playoff nod. My point is having a goalie that plays a ton of regular season games is overrated and it is more beneficial to have a capable back up that can handle a higher workload so that when the playoffs do come around the star goalie has the energy and the means to play at the level demanded of them in the playoffs.

  3. mattjw24 says:

    Great piece, Chris. Also to point out that is the fact Luongo said beating the Blackhawks in Game 7 was better than winning a gold medal, that speaks volumes to his goal towards the Cup. Glad to see someone take a stand for Luongo, because trashing him seems like the easier thing to do, and kind of shallow.

  4. Tom Tenfordy says:

    Wow! Fantastic. Absolutely bang on. I’ve been saying exactly the same thing for too long.

  5. austinhowe says:

    As a fan who was at that first game against the Kings in 1970 and many, many games (and goalies) since then, I truly believe that Roberto is perhaps the most talented goaltender we’ve ever had from a technical standpoint. It’s not a skill issue here, it’s his head. His will. His mental game. A game that Tim Thomas has mastered. A game that many goaltenders around the NHL with salaries a tenth of Luongo’s salary have mastered. I want to believe. But I don’t anymore, because you can see it. You can see him folding, buckling, choking. If he had the humility or felt the need (can he feel that with such a bullet-proof contract?) to seek out the best professional sport psychiatrist in the world (we know he can afford it) to help him with his mental game, if he tackled this problem head-on like King George VI did his stuttering problem, then maybe we’d have a chance. Maybe he’d have a chance to fulfill all of his promise and potential. I would be surprised if the discussion has not been had, or if Luongo hasn’t already sought out some help. Because clearly, the Stanley Park seawall is just not doing the trick.

    • Maynard Crebbs says:

      You believe Luongo is good from a technical stand point???? You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. He’s a terrible puck handler, every rebound turns into a mouse he can’t catch, and he plays on his knees, in the paint, all the time. When was the last time he was scored on while standing up?

  6. Mookie says:

    Seems to be all head games for Luongo. Way too often he lets in one softy and fifteen come through.

    Canucks struggle a lot to start the season. I’d press the panic button if this continues into 2012.

  7. Most of the people who have posted anti-Luongo information in posts seem to have their ideas distilled down to “I don’t like him – he’s a jerk – I don’t like his body language.” First off – he’s not dating your sister – so the jerk part doesn’t affect him.

    But put in some facts to back up your weak hypothesis.

    “Mediocre in the Olympics” 5-0-0 and a 1.76 GAA, 0.927 Save percentage. (and he stopped one more puck than Ryan Miller did when it mattered).

    2 1-0 shutouts in the Stanley Cup Final. The problem with the Canucks were with the 2-22 Powerplay and 8 goals over 7 games.

    You – like so many – have fallen under the opinion of some in the media that do not like Luongo. And if they write that he is fragile – than that’s what he is. His crime is being a poor interview. Grow up.

    Read the facts @edlau pulled together a great deal of information using information rather than hubris. I’d suggest you read it. But I won’t hold my breath.

  8. Chris Ross says:

    First off, I think you are missing the point of my article. I didn’t say he was bad because he is a jerk. I said he isn’t endearing to fans because he is a jerk, which obviously doesn’t help his cause much. I’m trying to explain why people in Vancouver have not been warm to Luongo, not why he isn’t good. And yes, interviews are part of that.

    Secondly, if we are in fact talking about Luongo’s play, stats are exactly the problem with people who are behind him. You look at the numbers and they are pretty solid. However, those same stats mask the problems that he has been having such as inconsistent play and an inability to elevate his level of play. Overall the numbers average out to be good but it’s the all to uncommon bad goal overshadowing an otherwise good game or the absolute stinkers smushed in between a good stretch of games.

    You give me numbers for the Olympics but it’s clear that you don’t remember how he actually played. Again, as I mentioned in my article, his numbers were a product of a great Canadian team, not himself. He was fine but he didn’t do anything special. Luckily, he didn’t have to be.

    Stats don’t tell the story. We aren’t playing fantasy hockey here.

    • You said Luongo is a jerk. Your words. You can’t back up your dislike for him from anything factual – so you go off on “Well – he’s not a leader”. You could run a Conservative political campaign with the character assassination you are doing.

  9. Good article, but I dunno, if you are building a team around a goalie – I’m hard pressed to think that Lou isn’t going to be your first choice (and I’m saying this as a blackhawk fan). Maybe Miller – but Lou’s in that conversation.

    Personally I think he still dealing with post cup hangover – he’ll shake out of it.

  10. Neil says:

    Let me get a few things off my chest here:
    1. I like Luongo. I just like his hangdog, whipped-puppy pressers. 2. Lu has the same physical mannerisms as a young Wayne Gretzky: he pulls his shoulders in, ducks his head, and refuses to make eye contact with a reporter; he sounds flippant when he’s being serious, and serious when he’s being flip. What he doesn’t have is the extensive coaching that Wayne received on dealing with the press. Reporters don’t know what to do with this bird, so they roast ’em.

    As for Luongo not elevating his game when it counts, you’re right & your wrong.

    Wrong: Lou was the best goaltender Canada had to offer — better than Fleury that year; clearly better than Brodeur, with his 6% better Sv%. Was Luongo the best goalie playing? No; but neither was Miller. It was Backstrom. The best goalie got bronze; the best teams got gold & silver, respectively, and Lou made 2 big saves when it counted.

    Right: When you look at Luongo’s statistics *as a Canuck* his Sv% goes down .02 in the post-season from .919 to .917, and his GAA goes up from an average of 2.35 to 2.50. Comparing apples to apples, though, his 2008-2011 regular season Sv% (when they changed from a trapping style to a free-flow attacking style) is .919 (same as his career average) and his GAA is 2.34 (just a hair off his Canucks average of 2.35 GA). His post-season performance over the same length of time is .909, with a GAA of 2.73.

    To be fair: 1. The Canucks give up, historically, one more shot per game in the post-season when Luongo is in net when compared with the regular season, at the same time that everyone else is playing better defence; 2. His game was actually on the rebound last season; it’s the 2009-2010 playoffs that kills his numbers (3.22 GAA vs. 2.56; .895 Sv% vs. .914).

  11. scnieder says:

    Luongo is a jerk. Met most of the players outside of their hotel after a game in Tampa Bay. Every player that walked by stopped to take pictures with us, except of course Luongo, who just shook my hand and walked away without any reply at all when I asked for a picture. On the other hand Kesler and Raymond hung up their phones to pose with us…. Next time I hope they buy a one way ticket for captain arrogant…. You won’t hear me “looo” ever again chump….

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