There is no figure in hockey more polarizing than Roberto Luongo.
Yesterday’s game against the Rangers only added more fuel to the fiery debate.
(Photo by byJeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Guest post by Stefan
Editors Note: Stefan is my coworker, and an avid hockey and Canucks fan. We have frequent e-mail debates about the merits of the Canucks, their lines, the coaching, and most frequently – Roberto Luongo. To preface this post, in his own words…"This is important because I think Canucks fans need to come to reality with respect to their ‘elite’ goaltender. He is the best goalie the team has ever had, but he’s unstable and he is not elite. A certain level of criticism is deserved, but also recognize that Canucks fans tend to get too high and too low and we need to treat Luongo like an insecure teenager; criticize too much and you may destabilize him. "
By: Stefan G
Since last night’s strange tilt against the Rangers where Canucks fans jeered Luongo for yet another sub-par October performance, I’ve been reading much debate online as to whether the fans’ treatment of Luongo was justified. I read one comment that highlighted the fact that last night’s ‘bronx cheer’ was not simply due to a single poor performance in October; but rather a snowball of frustration, built from 3 straight years of playoff meltdowns. I agree with that. However, as a long-time Canucks fan who has been witness to the stability of Kirk McLean, the revolving door of goaltenders following McLean’s departure and the Cloutier era, I do not accept the idea that Luongo is somehow a victim of a ‘goalie graveyard’ city where fans will criticize him no matter how successful he is.
If Luongo stops being a head case and plays to his potential (and salary) consistently when it matters most, the fans will embrace him with open arms. The fact is that he is mentally fragile.
Only a mentally unstable person would care or even think about whether Thomas is “pumping his tires”, let alone be stupid enough to say it.
Only a mentally unstable goalie would allow that goal to Marchand in game 6 and then continue to let in weak goals instead of shutting the door.
Only a mentally unstable goalie would give up on the puck on the partial breakaway by Bergeron in game 7 of the freakin’ SCFs!! Oh, poor baby, you got knocked into your net – stop the puck you fool!!! Luongo is not an elite goalie because of his mental instability. He is a good goalie, but he is not in the same league as Thomas and Lundqvist – it’s just too bad he’s paid like he is. After game 2, Thomas was criticized for being out of position for a couple of the Canucks’ goals. What was his response? (With a smile) “I don’t think I need any advice on how to play goalie at this time.” And then he followed that up with 5 games of perhaps the most impressive goaltending display in the SCFs we’ve seen in recent memory.
The criticism of Luongo is well deserved. His numbers are solid because he is a good goalie with a great team in front of him, but the numbers do not tell the whole story. He plays great as long as things are going his way and nothing bad or unlucky happens. As soon as something bad happens when the pressure is on, the wheels tend to fall off more often than not – and that’s when as fans we all get that weird nervous feeling that the opposition can score at will because Luongo ain’t gonna stop it. You know that feeling. It’s the same feeling we all got in game 7 vs. Minnesota in 2003. When the wheels fall off, Cloutier and Luongo are identical.
The fans will always have a love-hate relationship Luongo as long as he continues to give us reasons to feel that way…
Stefan is an avid hockey and Canucks fans. You can’t follow him on Twitter because he doesn’t know what it is.