This pretty much sums up last night’s 6-1 ass-kicking to the Dallas Stars.
Rebuild? Reset? Retool?
I feel like going thru a rebuild is a lot like becoming single again. At first it's all exciting and then you realize it sucks. A lot.
— Matt Lee (@mattlee980) March 4, 2014
Buckle up, Canucks fans.
After eight memorable and exciting seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, goaltender Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers on March 4, 2014.
Thus, Marie Hui and I wanted to bid Bobby Lu a proper farewell. Inspired by Boyz II Men, we proudly present our version of their smash hit “End of the Road”.
Make sure you get to bridge of the song at the 3:11 mark…you won’t be disappointed.
Photo credit: CBC
J.J.: Two memories stand out: The first was the moment Luongo was acquired by the Canucks. The second was Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins. Both stood out because of the pure ecstacy I felt when it happend.
I still remember thinking my buddy was playing a joke on me when he called me to say that Luongo was a Canuck. With all due respect to Dan Cloutier and the others, for the first time in a long time, the team had a legitimate superstar goaltender. I still remember thinking the Canucks, with the likes of Markus Naslund and the Sedins up front, Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo in the back end, would finally won the Cup.
I was at Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Bruins. After Max Lapierre scored near the end of the third period – the only goal of the game – and Lu posted his second 1-0 shutout of the Finals – only the second time in NHL history someone had accomplished this feat.
Matt: Of all the Roberto Luongo moments it’s difficult to find just one which stands out above the rest. You could make a case for many: How about his very first playoff game as a Canuck, when he turned aside 72 shots (a playoff record!) against the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the first rounds? Or how about the cajones it took for Bobby Lou when he painted a ‘C’ on his mask when he was named team captain?
For me, one of the best moments is when which few seldom remember. It was the first time Roberto tossed his stick over the glass to a young fan after he was named a game’s first star. Love him or hate him, Luongo inspired dozens of young fans with a simple gesture like that. And that’s something that none of his critics can ever take from him.
Clay: It was a great birthday present (albeit one day late) when Luongo was acquired by the Canucks on June 23, 2006. Luongo has had a stellar career in Vancouver (with six strong seasons and an Olympic gold medal) and he single-handedly ended the use of the term “goalie graveyard” in this city. Whereas some may remember him for playoff meltdowns, I prefer to remember him as the winning goalie for two of the most exciting hockey games ever played in this city (2010 Winter Olympic gold medal game and Game 7 vs. the Blackhawks in April 2011).
Victoria: My favorite Luongo moment was when he took over Martin Brodeur and won an Olympic gold medal for Canada. It isn’t exactly a Canucks-related moment, but the Olympics made me realize how proud I was to say he was a Canuck. “That’s my goalie!” I told all my friends around the world. And you know what? He’ll always be my goalie. I know it’s the right time for him to go, but I also know that he always gave the Canucks his all – I’ll always respect him for that. Good luck, Bobby Luuuuu!
Lizz: My all-time favorite Luongo memory was the Christmas I surprised my little brother by getting his favorite jersey autographed by his favorite goalie so I let him help me pick our favourite LUOOOOO moment.
We settled on the 2011 Chicago series.
Personally, I was partial to a game 2 save he made against Brian Campbell, where he needed every inch of his ridiculously large size 13 feet to stop the puck.
But we eventually agreed on the game 7 OT stop on Patrick Sharp, because without it, my boy Alex Burrows would have never had the chance to slay the dragon.
Caylie: What’s most disappointing for me this season isn’t the lockout, but instead is the departure of Roberto Luongo. Luo has meant a great deal to this city. I know the drama and trade speculation of the last few months overshadowed a lot of the bright moments we witnessed during his tenure, but I’ll always remember his Vezina nominations, the Stanley Cup run, his 47-win season, and becoming the franchise leader in wins.
Ed: Younger fans might not remember the absolute misery the Canucks had in goal after Kirk McLean stood between the pipes. With a cast that included Garth Snow, Kevin Weekes, Martin Brochu and Alfie Michaud, among others, I’m not kidding when I say that my favorite goalie during that era was Bob Essensa. Roberto Luongo was the franchise’s first superstar goaltender. Make your case for Captain Kirk or even King Richard Brodeur, but in Luongo, despite all the haters, for the first time the Canucks could make a case for having the best goalie in the league. He’s the best we’ve ever had and it’s too bad he got treated and run out-of-town by some like he’s Felix Potvin.
Chris: Much like Ed, it pains me to see Roberto being shown the “Un-Welcome to the City of Vancouver” sign. I’ve always looked upon Roberto as the Canucks version of Grant Fuhr. I understood that he was never going to be the guy we saw suit up in the 2006/07 season – a goaltender with a chip on his shoulder that carried a mediocre hockey team. Whether it was his stellar play against Dallas in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs (I was at Game 1. You know.. THAT Game 1) or his more recent forays in to social media, that’s the Luongo I’ll choose to remember.
It didn’t seem like it at times because of the flak he’s received over the years here, but Roberto Luongo’s work in Vancouver was appreciated. Just look back to this weekend, when Canucks fans so obviously wanted Lu to start the Heritage Classic.
The fact is, Luongo shattered the long standing perception of Vancouver as a goalie graveyard. All you need to do is look at the list of Canucks’ goalies in the 10 years prior to his arrival – Corey Hirsch, Arturs Irbe, Garth Snow, Sean Burke, Kevin Weekes, Felix Potvin and Bob Essensa, among many, many others – and it’s easy to see just how much he’s stabilized the Canucks’ goaltending position.
His accomplishments here are undeniable.
He won 252 regular season wins (1st in franchise history) and posted 38 regular season shutouts (1st in franchise history) in a Canucks jersey.
He holds the Canucks’ single season records for games played (76), wins (47), shutouts (9) and longest shutout streak (242:36 minutes).
Lu won 32 games in the playoffs, 2nd only to Kirk McLean, though his playoff GAA (2.53) and save percentage (0.916) are better than Captain Kirk’s. Like McLean, he won 15 games in one playoff season and took the Canucks to within one game of winning the Stanley Cup. Never mind the team in front of him was decimated by injuries in the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins and couldn’t score – the Canucks scored just 8 goals in 7 SCF games – he posted 2 shutouts – only the 2nd goaltender in NHL history to post 2 1-0 shutouts in the Final – and carried them on his shoulders.
He was nominated twice for the Vezina, once in 2009 and again in 2011, and if the Canucks had gone on to win the Cup in 2011, chances are, he likely would have won the Conn Smythe.
During the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, he took over an embattled Martin Brodeur in net and won a gold medal for Canada. He again represented Team Canada in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, where he shut out Team Norway in his lone start.
Not bad for a goalie who supposedly can’t win when it matters the most.
The truth is, expectations from Lu were always sky-high. Often, they were even unreasonable. Maybe it’s because he was able to keep his old, weak Florida Panthers teams competitive for so many years. Or maybe it’s because, he took Canucks teams, some of which couldn’t shoot a puck into a soccer net if they wanted to, from missing the postseason and into the second round of the playoffs, and then from there to the team’s return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 17 years.
But despite Lu’s obvious success, too many fans eventually turned on him and openly called for the new, sexy redhead or the outgoing Swede with the great sense of humor in net to take over. For his part, Lu was nothing but a consummate professional and teammate, even to the end.
As Luongo leaves Vancouver, he also leaves behind the most successful goaltending era in Canucks history. Some may not agree with this sentiment, but I think most do. And when you think about it, the last thing he heard from Canucks fans was on Sunday at the Heritage Classic when 50,000+ fans were chanting, “We want Lu.”
And to that we add, thank you, Lu.
Much has been made of Roberto Luongo’s plight here in Vancouver in recent years. Starting with the Stanley Cup Finals in June 2011, it’s been two and a half years of turmoil, tension, and drama.
The Luongo saga took yet another fascinating turn this past weekend when Eddie Lack was named the starter for Sunday’s Heritage Classic game at BC Place versus the Ottawa Senators.
Lack played the first game coming out of the Olympic break, shutting out the St. Louis Blues 1-0 on Wednesday night. Made sense given that Luongo returned to Vancouver from Sochi just a couple of days prior.
Lack was also given the next start, a tight 2-1 shoot-out loss to the Minnesota Wild. Although Lack played very well, the loss – albeit a close one – opened the door for a Luongo start on Sunday.
As word broke on Saturday that Luongo would not be starting, Twitter erupted with people arguing both sides.
For what it’s worth, I tweeted: “Backup goalie is supposed to play well (which Lack has) and ensure no significant drop off. Lack has done his job, let Lu do his tomorrow.”
Many people cited Lack’s strong play of late as giving the Canucks the best chance to win. And I get that we’re in a dog fight to make the playoffs.
I said it before the game and I’ve said it since: the Canucks needed to look at the “bigger picture” here. The bigger picture to me says that Luongo was not treated fairly last year (losing his job to Schneider before watching Schneider – and not him – get traded) and was deserving of the Heritage Classic start. This doesn’t have anything to do with emotions; Luongo’s last start was a solid shutout victory in the Olympics.
And just as there was no drop-off going from Luongo to Lack, there certainly was no drop-off going from Lack to Luongo. Luongo needed to start. Truthfully, I would be saying the same thing if the Canucks had won the game, or even if Lack had pitched another shutout.
So there I was on Sunday afternoon with my son Sean, soaking in the sights and sounds of the world’s largest indoor hockey game. I was able to snap some pretty good pictures (see them all here) including one of poor Roberto Luongo sitting on his own at the end of the bench.
After Ottawa took a 3-2 lead in the second period, an audible “We Want Lu!” chant broke out in the stadium. It was quite a surreal moment, magnified by the fact that there were 35,000 more fans than usual watching the game live and millions watching on TV across the country. It was a tense and awkward few seconds.
It reminded me of the feeling that I got watching the first game of the lockout-shortened 2013 season. In the home opener on January 19, 2013, Cory Schneider got the start as the newly-anointed starting Canucks goalie. The Canucks lost that game 7-3 to the visiting Anaheim Ducks, and Schneider was pulled early in the second period after allowing 5 goals on only 14 shots, including goals on 3 straight shots.
I vividly remember the mood in the crowd that evening: the fans were desperate for hockey and excited to see the Canucks back in action. But as each shot got past Schneider, the mood in the building became more and more tense, culminating in a tense buzz as Luongo skated out to replace Schneider (start at the 2:23 mark in the video below).
The same sort of tense buzz I felt at the Heritage Classic this past weekend. And as you’ll hear my friend Mike exclaim in my Clay’s Canucks Commentary at the 2:53 mark:
“THIS IS MESSED UP!”
This week could be the most important week for the Vancouver Canucks organization in a long, long time.
First, let’s set the background.
The Canucks can’t win. They’ve lost 9 of their last 10 games, and have only won 6 games (6-14-4) since Christmas.
They can’t score. They’ve managed to score 3 goals in a game just 4 times since the calendar turned to 2014, and their 2.33 goals per game average this season is their lowest since 1999, when their roster included illustrious players like Peter Zezel, Harry York, Bill Muckalt and Darby Hendrickson.
The Sedins are having their worst seasons, well, ever. As so are Alex Burrows and Alex Edler.
Off the ice, it’s not much better. Ryan Kesler wants out. GM Mike Gillis is on the hot seat, if not with the owners, then certainly with the fans. Interest in the team is down. Tickets sales are down. Corporate sales are down.
But perhaps the cherry on top?
The Canucks somehow managed to bungle what should have been a great celebration of hockey – the Heritage Classic at BC Place – and instead turn the focus once again to the obviously strained relationship between the team and Roberto Luongo.
When word got out on Saturday night that the Canucks were starting rookie goaltender Eddie Lack at the Heritage Classic, reaction from Canucks fans was swift. And it was mostly negative. In fact, while goaltending controversies usually tend to divide Canucks fans, the decision to sit Luongo for this unique event instead united them. Perhaps it’s the existence of social media, but even in the dark years of the Mike Keenan/Mark Messier era, I don’t remember so much anger directed at the team – and management – as was directed at them yesterday.
The scene at BC Place this afternoon was surreal. Lack, who had played his guts out all year, was getting booed, not for his play, but rather because he wasn’t Luongo. Luongo, who most had written off last year, sat on the bench, unhappy, angry and refusing to speak with the media after the game.
If there was ever a perfect prelude to the week the Canucks are supposed to start sending season ticket renewals (and selling playoff ticket packages), everything that’s transpired in the last week – together with the lack of on-ice success the last couple of months – were definitely not it.
These should be interesting times for this organization. It’s no secret that Canucks fans are fickle, and in fact, the appetite for all things Canucks has dwindled in the last couple of seasons. All you have to do is look around the arena and see the empty seats, or see the suites which no longer have corporate sponsors attached to them (for example, the Best Buy Club is now just Club 500 and the River Rock Club is now just The Club), or view the frequent ads for ticket promotions not seen in several seasons.
Certainly, the Canucks will have their work cut out for them as they start reaching out to season ticket holders. In 2011, at the peak of their success with this current core, the season ticket renewal rate was at close to 99%. They even managed to build a long wait list for new season ticket holders. But in the last couple of seasons, that renewal rate has decreased. At the season ticket renewal event in 2012, a Canucks account rep stated the renewal rate was around 97%; this season after the lockout, the same rep stated it was at around 95%. Already for next season, the organization is expecting an even lower renewal rate – I’ve heard rumors it could be as low as 85%. The wait list has helped in the meantime; however, they’ve already exhausted most of it.
Which brings us back to this week.
The NHL’s trade deadline is this Wednesday, March 5th, and with core players such as Kesler, Luongo, and perhaps even Edler in play, the Canucks have a prime opportunity to reshape their roster and re-inject some hope for the people who invest big dollars in them.
The question is how GM Mike Gillis goes about accomplishing that.
Ideally, any trades for Kesler, Luongo and Edler – all still very good players, regardless of what Twitter says – should net the Canucks some good, young players, which should speed up the rebuilding process. Kesler alone is attracting a lot of interest, and if Gillis plays his cards right, he could net the Canucks at least one, maybe two, young, top-6 forwards and some high draft picks. Imagine adding the likes of Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Brandon Sutter, Derrick Pouliot and/or Beau Bennett to a youth core that already includes Eddie Lack, Zack Kassian, Chris Tanev, Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Nicklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce and Frankie Corrado.
That’s not a bad group to start a rebuild. But do they inspire enough confidence in their season ticket holders and corporate sponsors? I mean, nothing says “give me your money now” than we’ll be good in a couple of years.
The other side of the coin is the need for this organization to make the playoffs. A couple of years ago, it was estimated that each playoff home game brings in roughly $2-$3 million in revenue. Even assuming the team makes it and flames out in the first round, that’s still a lot of money – almost enough to buy out David Booth in the off-season – especially for an owner who already has a lot of money tied up in developing his office towers around the arena.
So do they start the rebuild now – and start selling hope now? Or do they make another push, with this most of this current core intact, and hope to catch lightning in a bottle? For those who do invest thousands of their hard-earned dollars on the team, what would they rather see?
It’s obvious the Canucks, not too long removed from the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy wins, have gone stale. It’s obvious fans are mad – a lot of them already speaking with their wallets – and want change.
This week, the team has an opportunity to respond. It will be interesting to see how they do.
Ottawa Senators (26-23-11) at Vancouver Canucks (28-24-10)
The Vancouver Canucks will take on the Ottawa Senators at BC Place for the 2014 Heritage Classic. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s snowing as we speak in downtown Vancouver.
Just as cold as the weather outside is the Canucks’ offence. They’ve scored a grand total of 6 goals in their last 6 games, and not surprisingly, they’ve lost all but 1 of them. The Sedins, though they’ve been playing a bit better since the Olympic break, haven’t scored in 2013. Alex Burrows hasn’t scored since the 2012/2013 season. In fact, much of the Canucks’ offence over the last quarter of a season has been provided by Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, and Kesler, who has goals in consecutive games and leads the Canucks with 21 goals for the season, may or may not want to be traded before Wednesday’s trade deadline.
Goaltending Controversy, pt. 10438
According to TSN, it is expected that backup goaltender, Eddie Lack, will be getting the start today. If he does, it will be his third consecutive start. It will also be a huge slap to the face of starting goaltender, Roberto Luongo. “I’ve always wanted to play in an outdoor game, so I was excited when I saw we got one this year and I was looking forward to it.” Luongo said. Unfortunately, that might not happen. Canucks coach, John Tortorella, said he will announce the starting goaltender today before the game. Let’s hope saner heads prevail.
Well the Olympics have come and gone with Canada seizing glory and a gold medal to boot. It was fun while it lasted but now it’s time to shift our focus back to the remainder of the NHL season and a Canuck team in disarray. The upcoming stretch drive will surely be tense and stressful on fan and player alike as teams scramble to cement their position in the post-season.
As of late, there have not been many smiles within the Canucks locker room as they have suffered an abysmal start (if you can still call it that heading into March) to the year 2014. The players look sullen, depressed and aggravated in post-game interviews and media scrums. Perhaps, in this lies the problem. Anyone who has played sports knows that when you have fun you play well and when you play well you have fun. Yes, I realize these are professional athletes making millions of dollars but all of them started playing hockey not for money but for the love of the game. The team camaraderie and locker room horseplay constitute a large part of what makes this game so great. The Canucks have a history of comedic moments and they often coincide with strong team-play (Kesler’s 2010-2011 interview bomb-skills anyone?) Perhaps a little humor and laughter could spice up what seems to be a stale energy in the locker room.
Here are some of the funnier off-ice moments from past seasons:
5) Rookie Dance-Off – Alex Edler, and the late Luc Bourdon show off their moves in an epic battle at a charity event. Who knew quiet and solemn Edler was such an accomplished break-dancer?
4) Luongo Poetry – Roberto shows off his linguistic skills in a TSN segment. Lou wearing spectacles, a scarf and a paper-boy hat whilst referencing Byfuglien’s “big ass”. Need I say more?
3) Ryan Kesler Interrupts Pelvic Exam – This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Kesler calls a doctor with some good news and catches him in a somewhat “compromising position”. Hilarity ensues.
2) Dale Weise and a Missing Helmet – Someone hides Dale’s helmet and panic starts to set in. I wonder if he would have been this worried when Vigneault was the head coach?
1) Kesler Bomb – En route to a 40-goal season Kesler started a new trend in the locker room which became known as the “Kesler Bomb”. No one was safe – everyone was a potential target.
I’m still shaking as I write this. Dear Hockey Gods we almost lost to Latvia. LATVIA?!
So do you have a prediction for USA-Canada? What do you think the score will be? Tell us!
And where are you watching? This Canadian has taken Friday off work and will be screaming/cheering her lungs out from her West Hollywood apartment. How about you?