After a meeting with Mike Gillis this morning, Roberto Luongo has given up the Canucks captaincy.
Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that goaltender Roberto Luongo has decided he will relinquish his role as team captain. Luongo’s leadership remains important to the club’s continued success and he will continue to support teammates with his work ethic, discipline and desire to win.
“Roberto has been an excellent captain for our team the past two seasons,” said Mike Gillis. “We respect and support his decision to relinquish the captaincy and are confident that he will continue to help lead our team through his tremendous character and work ethic both on and off of the ice.”
“I am honoured to have served as captain of the Vancouver Canucks for the past two seasons,” said Roberto Luongo. “Being captain in a Canadian city for a team with such passionate fans is a privilege and an experience I will always take pride in. I will continue to be a leader on this team and support my teammates the same way I always have while focusing on our ultimate goal.”
As controversial as it was at the time Luongo succeeded Markus Naslund as Canucks captain, there was little doubt that he possessed – possesses – the traits that make him a good captain. He was the Canucks’ best player – in fact one of the best players in the NHL – and the team’s emotional leader. He was vocal on and off the ice and, win or lose, didn’t shy away from the media spotlight in this hockey-mad city. He was (is) active in the community and took over Nazzy’s Suite Corner, a suite that gives sick and underprivileged kids the opportunity to watch Canucks games at Rogers Arena. Officially or unofficially he was already one of the team’s leaders; the question wasn’t whether or not he deserved the “C” but rather if it was the right move to also add the weight of the captaincy to his big shoulders.
Whether or not Luongo wanted to give up the “C”, the fact that he did only adds to the argument that he is a good leader. Whether or not he thought the weight of the captaincy took away from his own play, he realized it created a distraction to the team. And as any good leader would do, he shoved his ego aside and put his team’s well-being ahead of his own.
Over the next week or so, the next great debate in Canucks Nation will center on potential Luongo replacements. Certainly, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler have to be the front-runners, and both already served as alternate captains last season. Henrik is a quiet and assertive leader; Kesler is a bit more emotional. Personally, I’d give Henrik the nod but only because I think he’s calmer and more mature than Kesler is at this point of their careers. He’s widely-respected, not only in his own dressing room, but by his peers from other teams as well.
If you look at the list of recent Stanley Cup champions and their captains – Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, Rod Brind’amour, Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Dave Andreychuk – all are respected, quiet and lead-by-example types by nature, but still able to command the attention of the room. Henrik fits the same mould, and IMHO anyway, deserves the captaincy just as much.