Tale Of Two Goalies

Stephen Webb
March 10 2010 12:54AM

IL: Vancouver Canucks v Chicago Blackhawks

Oh my god Luongo is the worst goalie! We should trade him for a puck bag and used jock straps!

Or

Roberto is a God! He's the greatest goalie in the world! No, not just the world, the whole effin' universe! Gold Medal Baby!

This seems to be how most modern "discourse" seems to go, especially on the internet. Despite what some people (even members of my family) may think, I'm not an idiot, so I totally get why this is the way it is. Extreme opinions are always going to be more noteworthy and a hell of a lot more compelling than merely saying everything is "OK' or "fine". Crazy opinions get people going, they start internet flame wars, and they generate innumerable phone calls for all the endless sports radio talk shows. But if everyone is busy taking an extreme view, on one side or the other, allow me to take what now looks like the most radical position - the middle. Good ole' in between.

In the case of Roberto Luongo, taking the centrist view has the benefit of being  both uncharted territory and the most accurate assessment of our Jekyll and Hyde goaltender. Luongo's most myopic fans still cling to the view that he may the best goalie in the world and others put him somewhere between Dan Cloutier and Artus Irbe in the pantheon(Bill Simmons TM) of Canuck goaltenders. His disciples overrate him, while his detractors underrate him. Let's try and meet in the middle. This is not a case of the Emperor having no clothes, he's got something on, it's just not the most beautiful garment ever made. Like any good sportswriter knows, a trip to the mall offers the best analogies when trying to figure out the value of athletes, so here's mine: Luongo's not as lowly and economical (euphemism for cheap) as Old Navy, but he sure ain't the Banana Republic. He's the Gap. The Gap is good, the Gap is fine, but everybody knows there's something better out there. Serviceable, yet unspectacular. Really good, yet rarely great.  Plus "Gap" nicely sums up some of the goals he lets in, Colorado's second one from last night being the perfect example.

If we're honest with ourselves, I don't think anyone feels 100 percent sure that Luongo can lock down a game for the Canucks when they take the lead, or outright steal a game when for them when their play is less than stellar. Anyone who watched Dominik Hasek in his prime knows the horrible feeling you'd get in the pit of your stomach when he was on top of his game and your team was trying to score a goal to get themselves back into a game. It just felt like it wasn't going to happen. It would take a miracle, and 40 years have proved that any god out there is no Canuck fan. I don't think Luongo gives that feeling to other teams' fans.

That said, I'm not pining for the days of Dan Cloutier.Luongo got the gold medal for Canada and I'm happy to have him for the next 12 years, just not ecstatic. At least with Luongo there isn't any danger of beach balls getting by him.

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Stephen has lived most of his life in Vancouver and has bled each and every colour the Canucks have had to offer. Stephen can contacted at swebb@hotmail.com
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#1 The Naked Robber
March 10 2010, 03:27PM
Trash it!
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props

Umm... He just took home a Gold for team Canada against the toughest players in the NHL.

I'd choose Luongo over any other goalie in the NHL right now.

Luongo isn't the problem here. Unrealistic expectations from arm chair coaches are the only problem.

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