Yesterday Roberto Luongo tucked his tail between his pads and relinquished his captaincy of the Vancouver Canucks. Most athletes would relish an opportunity to lead their mates in battle as their team captain. So when someone willingly quits, or gives up that honor, what gives? How does the locker room react? Do players lose confidence in their ex-captain? Is it like a the morning after a one night stand when you lose respect for everyone one involved, including yourself? And who should step up and become the next captain in Vancouver?
I don't know Roberto (it's been weird since the restraining order), but it seems like bad form to shirk that kind of responsibility. Continue reading for more soul-searching, or just jump into the comments to throw down your $0.02.
The reports out of Vancouver all sound very soft and cuddly, very PC, and Luongo comes across as a good guy who is doing what he thinks is best for the team. And I can see that. He's probably right. The burden on the shoulders of an all-star, top-tier netminder, who plays for a very talented team with high expectations of a deep post season run, is already too much for most goalies. Then throw in the pressure of El Capitan on top of that, and I can see why Luongo declined to continue as Cap'n. Also, if a goalie is captain, he can't "discuss" calls with officials, which isn't really that big of a deal because Assistant Captains can step in, but a captain should be able to speak for his team, so I can see his argument there too. Plus, Roberto has very capable replacements. Either Sedin would make a fine leader - besides, they could alternate jerseys with the "C" and nobody would be able to tell anyways. Kesler would also make a good fit as he has a respected work ethic, always gives 100%, and likes to talk. So in all honesty, I bet Vancouver will be better off this rapidly approaching season, and so will Luo, as he can concentrate solely on his game. I think overall it's a very good move for the 2011 Northwest champ favorites. Time will tell.
What we do know is that Rob has floundered the last two post seasons. Last year in the Western Semi's, his numbers were a goals against of 3.5, with a save percentage of .896. And it wasn't just the high-scoring Blackhawks that did him in. Luo's 2010 playoffs totals were just plain ugly: 3.22 goals-against average and .895 save percentage. And the post season preceding last, he famously choked when he allowed 7 goals on 30 shots while being eliminated by the got choked up (if you click on that link, don't watch the last minute, it's mean, hateful, and just plain garbage. But the first two minutes are pretty awesome).and then literally
So Bobby has had some trouble with handling the NHL playoff stress. That's not to say he hasn't enjoyed brilliant stretches in the post season, or that he hasn't performed well in big games; Dude won a Gold Medal just 7 months ago - even though he wasn't the best goalie in the tournament. These stats may simply just be a glimpse of his fortitude.
I feel for the guy. It can't be an easy thing to say to your teammates, "hey look fellas, somebody else would be better than me to lead you. Sorry". Is it ballsy and actually take more guts and strength of character to say that, or is Luongo a scared little bunny that needs to sit down to pee? I guess it doesn't matter if the Canucks win, but what happens if they lose?