Last season Roberto Luongo lost the starting goalie job with the Canucks to the younger Cory Schneider. Luongo was benched in the playoffs in favour of Schneider and he went to GM Mike Gillis to announce he was willing to waive his no-trade to be traded out of Vancouver. After a summer of speculation of Luongo staying in Vancouver or heading to Toronto, Luongo is still a member of the Vancouver Canucks- but not for much longer.
The Canucks are currently 2 games into their 48 game season and both Schneider and Luongo have started a game- both losing their first appearances. The Canucks have made it clear they want to move forward with Cory Schneider between the pipes and have Roberto Luongo back him up for now. But after the new number 1 netminder struggled in the opener things became a little more complicated in the Canucks goal crease. In order to smooth things over the Canucks must ship Roberto Luongo out of town as fast as they can or risk a goaltending war that will be a major distraction for the already banged up Canucks.
Sure Schneider had a rough start in the season opener, surrendering 5 goals on 14 shots and getting pulled in favour for Luongo- but it was the first game of the season after a 113 day lay-off, the Canucks defence played horribly and they're missing many key offencive weapons, you can't entirely blame Schneider! A side note for all Canucks fans freaking out about the rough start on Saturday- 12 other NHL goalies had a horrible day as well, just look at Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick. Schneider has proved he is more than capable of being the Canucks number one goalie with his play down the stretch and in the playoffs last season. He's going to get better as the season goes on and he'll be just fine- is it really worth ruining the kids confidence by keeping Luongo around and starting him every other game?
Not only will Schneider's play improve as the season goes on but the Canucks will as well. Right now their whole 2nd line has virtually been lost due to injury, their defence couldn't stop a peewee hockey team right now and some of the most talented goal scorers were unable to score in the shootout against the Oilers. It doesn't matter who's in net the Canucks team from opening weekend wasn't going to win either game. It's still early, players will become healthy again, Ryan Kesler will return and Schneider will bounce back.
Keeping Luongo only adds to the drama in Vancouver. When a team isn't winning the goaltender usually shoulders the most blame and having a "back-up" of Luongo's skill level only adds to the contraversy. How long till fans are chanting they want Luongo in net like they did last year for Schneider? In order to avoid chaos in the lockeroon, amongst the team and for the goaltenders, it's best if Luongo is sent packing. Sometimes having a solid goaltender as a backup pushes your starter to play his best, but in a case with Schneider and Luongo it's more of a distraction that would only hurt the the team. Luongo himself has stated it's time to move on, he wants to head somewhere and turn over a new leaf- this is now Schneider's team. Keeping Luongo around is like the Toronto Maple Leafs still allowing Brian Burke to make trades after being fired.
This is the perfect time for the Canucks to trade Luongo. It's early on in the season, he hasn't sat been sitting on the bench gathering dust and the Canucks could use some help with all the injuries. In a shortened season there's no time to get off to a slow start, with some healthier line-up the Canucks would be better off. Forcing players to play in front of 2 different goalies constantly isn't going to help chemistry and the Canucks could continue their slow start falling further behind. The Canucks made it clear Schneider is their man, keeping Luongo around as "insurance" doesn't help Schneider with his confidence and keeps controversy over the team and the goalies. It's tough enough to play in a Canadian hockey market and even tougher to be a netminder in a Canadian hockey market, why make it worse for your goalie?
The best thing for the Vancouver Canucks to do is trade Roberto Luongo as of yesterday to solidify that they are serious about moving forward with Cory Schneider between the pipes. The don't need the goalie circus to affect the team and could use the reinforcements Luongo would fetch. If the Canucks are serious about fixing their goaltending woes expect Roberto Luongo to be a member of another NHL club by the end of the week.
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