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Ex-Canucks GM Mike Gillis says Roberto Luongo’s number should be retired
By Mike Gould2 months ago
Longtime Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo is set to enter the team’s Ring of Honour on Thursday, but his old GM isn’t sure if that’s the proper way to recognize the Hockey Hall of Fame inductee.
Mike Gillis joined Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on Wednesday to discuss his tenure as Canucks general manager, and it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to the man who was Vancouver’s No. 1 goaltender from the time Gillis arrived to shortly before he was fired.
“My experience with Roberto was excellent,” Gillis said. “Couldn’t have asked for more from a core player and a leader. I’m glad to see that he’s being recognized.
“In getting to know Roberto, he was the consummate professional. He outworked everybody, he was at the top of his game for our entire tenure in Vancouver, he didn’t hesitate in helping Cory Schneider and whoever the backup might’ve been to try and accomplish their goals.”
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Gillis, who has worked in the NHLPA since being fired by the Canucks in 2014, also discussed the controversial decision made by the Canucks in 2008 to name Luongo team captain. He stood by the choice, which technically violated NHL rules, adding it was initially the idea of then-head coach Alain Vigneault.
Luongo spent two seasons as captain, sometimes wearing the “C” on his mask, before coming to a mutual agreement to hand off the responsibility to Henrik Sedin beginning with the 2010-11 season.
“We got villified for doing that, but if you took away the position, he was the right person at the time for that role,” Gillis said. “We didn’t remove the C, it was a mutual decision that we thought was best for the team because of the level of criticism from national media and others about his role, and Roberto felt uncomfortable at times.
“It was a mutual decision to move on to Henrik, who had grown significantly over a couple of years and was ready for that role now,” Gillis added. “The decision then was between Daniel and Henrik, and that was a very difficult decision as well because they were both equal in our eyes in terms of leadership capability.”
And when asked point-blank by Sekeres whether the Canucks should retire Luongo’s number or stand by their plan of putting him into the Ring of Honour, Gillis didn’t mince his words.
“Retired number,” Gillis quickly responded. “I think his play, his community work, leadership — I think he fits all the criteria for someone who should have that honour. The things he did away from the rink which he did not publicize, he did not bring to anyone’s attention were really strong.
“To me, those are the features that allow someone to have their jersey retired. Incredible play, incredible leadership and great community service away from the rink. I think he was all three of those things.”
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