The Canucks are over, but the goalie saga rolls on and on. Frank Doyle reports.
It looked like a changing of the guard in Vancouver when Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault chose to leave Roberto Luongo on the bench for the Cancucks’ Game 4 against the Kings. But now the Canucks are out of the playoffs, having lost to the Kings in the first round, things may not be quite that obvious.
It had seemed cut and dried. Schneider is seven years younger than Luongo, and has a better relationship with the Vancouver goalie coach, Roland Melanson. It seemed that Luongo would see the writing on the wall and move on – to either Tampa Bay or perhaps Toronto, where they always seem to have an inter-pipe vacancy.
But now the President’s Trophy holders have crashed out of the playoffs the picture has changed. The catalyst of change is Cory Schneider’s agent, Mike Liut. Liut is no ordinary agent, having kept goal for the Whalers, Blues and Caps in his time. He sees deeper patterns where a lot of sports agents – hello, Scott – only see the dollar bills.
Benching one goalie and starting another isn’t like dumping Jennifer to date Angelina. It’s just hockey, and happens for a variety of reasons. Liut thinks that people should maintain perspective and remember that there have been lots of teams in the past who had two equally matched goalies in their glory years.
The Rangers happily rotated John Vanbiesbrouck and Mike Richter in the early 90s. Glenn Resch and Billy Smith shared the net for the Islanders before Resch moved on to the (then) Colorado Rockies. Having two goalies in hockey is not like having two quarterbacks in football.
Besides. The organisation has more to worry about than just the Schneider/Luongo conundrum. Losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals sucks, but it’s still Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Losing in the first round of the playoffs as President’s Trophy holders – well, that’s just not acceptable. The injury to Danny Sedin affected Vancouver, sure, but the Canucks went 8-1-0 in the remainder of the regular season after Duncan Keith did for him.
What may be more pertinent to the Canucks is the age-old question of whether the team that wins games in the regular season is the same as the team that wins in the playoffs. It’s a subtle thing, as if you don’t win in the regular season you’re not in the playoffs at all, but it’s certainly something else for the Vancouver brass to mull over in the long, empty summer ahead.