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 cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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One and Done

The Vancouver Canucks are supposed to be a team that is built for annual Stanley Cup runs. This isn’t supposed to be the last time. In fact, this is supposed to be the beginning. General Manager Mike Gillis has much of his core locked up for multiple years including the Sedins, Ryan Kesler, Roberto Luongo, Dan Hamhuis and Alex Burrows.

Championship hangover is something most seen in hockey and football. Makes sense, they’re the 2 most physical. It takes a lot out of a team to make 1 championship run, much less 2. This might not be a championship hangover for the Canucks but it might as well be.

Only 5 teams in the last 20 years have reached back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals and 2 of those have gone on to win in consecutive years. They say that hockey is the hardest championship to win. 4 gruelling series, 16 victories, all over a long 2 months. Brutal.

However, bodies aren’t the only thing that the players invest. It’s how much they invest emotionally.

The Canucks have invested as much and probably more than most teams have in the past. It was their year and it was time to get the monkey off their backs. Everyone was tired of being the city without a championship. Tim Thomas just got in their way.

The team was battered, bruised and decimated. Alex Edler played on broken fingers, Kesler on a torn groin, Higgins possibly on a broken foot and the list goes on and on. They left it all on the line and fell short.

It’s hard to imagine that they have one more in them next year.

This season was too much for the entire team. The drive they had to bring the team and the city of Vancouver a Stanley Cup was enormous. It showed throughout the playoffs. The toll that this run will take on the team is going to be all too evident next year.

Moreover, if the NHL wants to continue this ridiculous trend of avoiding calling penalties in the playoffs the Canucks will have even more trouble next year. The whistles went away for the most part throughout the playoffs and this is a roster not meant to match up to the physicality that a playoff series prior to the lockout presented. This is a roster meant for the open ice and skill that the new era was intended to be.

The one guy you wouldn’t expect to suffer from a hangover is Ryan Kesler. This true warrior, who skated as hard as he could through the drug-masked pain even with a minute to go in a 4-0 game 7, was teary eyed. “I really thought we were going to win this one” said Kesler following the loss, “I can’t put it into words right now.” He gave it everything he had but it wasn’t enough. The whole team did.

Related: Why Isn’t Anyone Worried About Ryan Kesler

Roberto Luongo has had to battle through so much. Mentally he must be drained. His psyche must be like one of those flipped, flaming cars on Robson Street.

Justifiably he has been berated by the media and toyed with by the fans. A Stanley Cup would have shut them all up. Now it’s another long year of having to answer question after question about his mental toughness and ability to come up clutch.

He’s thinking of giving Lebron a call for some advice.

For a guy whose psyche is as delicate as a newborn baby, Roberto Luongo is going to have trouble shrugging this one off. His continual inability to play well on the road, the more overpaid by the day 12 year contract, a red sea parted five hole and the cardboard blocker he tries to pass off as a glove on his left hand all add up to one messed up goalie. This coming after new goalie coach Rollie Melanson completely remodelled his game prior to the season.

3 words: 11 more years.

Related: Roberto Luongo the Ex-Factor

More bad news for the Canucks comes from the thought that 3 of their top 6 defensemen are coming off the books in the summer. Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, and Sami Salo have expiring contracts. With no way to sign all 3, the Canucks will have to find a way to compensate in that regard. The fantastic play of rookie Chris Tanev is a good start.

If the Chicago Blackhawks are any indication of what lies ahead, the Canucks should be worried. Although the Blackhawks roster was decimated, it was apparent during their round 1 series with Vancouver that they weren’t playing with their hearts fully committed during the regular season. This was a team that underachieved greatly but had the talent and ability to turn their play up when the season was on the line.

The core of their roster stayed intact, which gave them arguably the best team in the Western Conference. They couldn’t muster up enough for the regular season though. The toll their championship run had taken on them was too drastic to overcome.

Vancouver will likely be seeing much of the same next year.

The Canucks have the team to contend next year, at least on paper they do. This is their small crack in the window of opportunity. In spite of that, nothing can make up or account for the roller-coaster that the team has gone through this year. The roller-coaster that will ultimately lead to the team’s downfall next season.

In theory, being that close to winning a championship should motivate them more. In practice, the thought of retribution won’t be enough to toil through the grind of another deep run into a 2nd consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Related: Trip Back in Time Killing Canucks

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 cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Why Isn’t Anyone Worried About Ryan Kesler?

Ryan Kesler might not be his usual self in the Stanley Cup Final

Update: June 17 — It has been reported following the Stanley Cup Finals that Ryan Kesler played through a torn groin and torn hip labrum.

The city of Vancouver is in a state of bliss. Nothing else matters to anyone right now. School, work, love, the NBA finals? Nope, everyone is talking Canucks.

It has been 17 years since the Canucks have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and 40 long years without ever having won a Cup. This will be the first time in three appearances that they will go in as favourites.

The biggest buzz around town is the seemingly inevitable return of 3rd line center and one of the best faceoff men in the league. Manny Malhotra was deemed out for the season in March when lost his vision in his left eye after puck hit him square in the eye. His status has now shifted from” a return this season would be miraculous” to “cleared to play in game 1.”

It’s euphoria in Vancouver.

They say that ignorance is bliss. That phrase couldn’t ring truer for Canuck fans right about now.

News flash for Canuck fans: Ryan Kesler, your Selke and Conn Smythe candidate, is still injured. He most likely pulled a muscle in game 5 against the Sharks and after the injury, despite scoring the all-important tying goal, was moving more like a wounded soldier than a hockey player. A wounded soldier with a rifle.

Virtually all Canuck related news is overshadowing his injury and I can’t understand why. Whether people are talking Malhotra’s imminent return, Luongo’s game 5 brilliance or just taking in the Sedinery, Ryan Kesler’s injury is only being mentioned in passing.

Related: Roberto Luongo the Ex-Factor

The injury is cause for concern. He pulled one of those vulnerable muscles. The muscles that need time to heal. The muscles that re-injure most easily when you come back too early from them.

Kesler may have scored the tying goal in game 5 but aside from that he was simply a liability on the ice following his injury. He couldn’t fight for the pucks on the board, needed excessively wide turns to build up any speed and could not keep up with the pace of a Conference Final game 5.

Kesler looked helpless at times. Even with the 8 day lay-off I can’t imagine that he will be 100% healthy.

It’s the NHL playoffs though. You need to have one of your limbs falling off to keep you out of a game. It isn’t heroic to play on an injury, it is expected.

Ryan Kesler’s status for game 1 isn’t the question because we all know that he will suit up. This is a matter of Kesler being able to play anywhere near the level that he has this post-season.

Too many people are complaining about the long layoff and how the Canucks have lost any advantage that they gained from finishing off San Jose in 5. If anything, the Canucks should be thanking their lucky stars that NBC decided to play Wednesday. I’m sure Ryan Kesler is.

By the time game 1 rolls around Ryan Kesler won’t be able to play with his usual reckless abandonment. The thought of re-injuring that leg will be weighing on his mind. Contrary to popular belief, Ryan Kesler is not Superman.

It will be near impossible for Kesler to match the physicality of this modern-day version Big Bad Bruins. A coast-to-coast rush or game saving back check at full speed will in all likelihood be out of the question early in this series.

Sometimes being tough isn’t enough. Ryan Kesler doesn’t have a cracked rib or a bruised thigh. You can’t play through a pulled groin like you do with other things. Players don’t get warrior status from playing through a pulled muscle but the effects of it can be as severe as those glorified injuries.

To the Vancouver Canucks, he is as essential as any player can be to a team. He is a 40 goal scorer who is a lockdown defender. He’s as tough as they come and If I were a major media outlet I would also feed you a bunch of crap about Kesler being a great presence in the dressing room.

It’s odd that more people aren’t worried about this. A Stanley Cup is practically unfathomable without a healthy Ryan Kesler.

It would be nice if ignoring our problems would make them all go away but life doesn’t work like that. Ignorance is bliss until you have to face reality and the reality is that Ryan Kesler’s injury could prevent the Vancouver Canucks from winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

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 cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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