The hockey club seems to love creating controversy for goalies, but the way they’ve been handling their current “number one” has been nothing short of shameless. If they’re not willing to trade Luongo and put him out of his misery, they should at least locate some class.
It’s one thing for Vancouver’s typically fickle fans to write off the goaltender after he didn’t do everything he could possibly do to secure the Cup in 2011, but it’s another thing altogether for the organization to treat him this way.
Everybody knows how the Canucks treated him over the course of the whole Cory Schneider fiasco, but what happened on Sunday’s Heritage Classic was the final straw.
Head coach John Tortorella gave Eddie Lack the start in what was the team’s biggest game of the season. In front of a crowd of 54,194 fans, Luongo sat on the sidelines and watched. Midway through the second period of the game, with the Senators up 3-2, the Vancouver faithful started up a “We want Lu!” chant. It didn’t happen and Ottawa rolled on to a 4-2 victory.
“It’s their opinion and if they want to give a ‘Lu’ chant, I am OK with it,” Lack said. “He’s the best goalie this franchise has had and I understand he has a lot of fans.”
Lack is a smart guy and a good goalie and he’s right: Luongo is the best goalie this franchise has had. He deserves better.
Of course, Tortorella also has a responsibility to play who he thinks will get the club the victory and that’s what he did on Sunday. “[Luongo] wasn’t benched. I decided to play Eddie Lack over him,” Tortorella said. “Before this game the way Eddie was playing, I thought it was our best chance to get two points.”
There is naturally no real way to know how Luongo was playing leading up to the Heritage Classic because Tortorella hasn’t started him since February 8.
“Yeah, [Luongo is] angry. He’s not happy. He’s proud. I get that. I like the guy. I think he’s been terrific for us this year, but this is part of the business,” Tortorella said. “I know it’s sensitive here, and I tell you, I did a lot of thinking about that. I have to make decisions each and every time with such short strokes that I think is going to give our team the best chance to win. Eddie was playing lights out.”
“Lights out,” huh? Once again, this is still a coach’s call and Torts has to do what he has to do in these cases – no matter who agrees.
But the Heritage Classic was an emotional game – and an emotional issue for Luongo. “I’ve always to play in an outdoor game,” he said. “I was excited when I saw we got one this year. I was looking forward to it.”
So now, with the Canucks likely sitting on the outside looking in with respect to the post-season, the organization has once again pissed off Luongo. It’s a good thing he is, as Don Cherry pointed out, too nice a guy to say anything or do anything about it. But it still leaves him in a terrible situation, with a bloated contract that “sucks” and a team that doesn’t seem to want him anymore.