John Garrett: The guy
The goaltender's union is a tight knit group. There are a lot of prerequisites to belong, not the least of which is the desire to be THE GUY. No young player who is learning the game and plans to be a goalie gets excited about playing every third shift or waiting for his coach to decide if he has the skills to be on the power play or to kill penalties. The goalie mentality wants to be involved for the full 60 minutes. They want to be the deciding factor. They relish the fact that wins and losses depend on how they play.
By the time a goaltender makes it to the NHL he has gone through the ups and downs of good games and bad games. He has experienced the misfortunes of pucks banking off skates or posts and going in and also of those same shots that hit the post and stay out hit a skate and go wide. He knows the pressure of having to prove himself every night and that the other guy sitting on the bench is out to take his job. No goalie trains or wants to be the back-up. Every goalie wants to play and play as many games as possible.
Roberto Luongo has done an amazing job at being THE GUY. In the seven years between lockouts he played in 461 regular season games and took over almost every Canuck goaltending record. The team won back-to-back Presidents' Trophies and in six of the last seven years won the Northwest Division. Sure he had some problems in the playoffs, but he did get to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and people seem to forget that in that game the Canucks were shutout. Did I mention the goalie usually gets blamed for every loss?
You can understand why Roberto Luongo would not be happy with how things turned out in the past 18 months. Cory Schneider played well enough to get a chance to be THE GUY. He took over for Luongo in the playoffs against Los Angeles and the writing was on the wall. Schneider was going to be number 1 and Luongo would be traded, but the lockout threw up a snag and teams in the shortened schedule were reluctant to make a move. Luongo played in only 20 of the 48 games of the regular season and was supposed to be the back-up for the playoffs. It did not work out that way and Luongo started games 1 and 2 and played pretty well, but lost both. Schneider played games 3 and 4 and had his problems.
Schneider was good last year especially in the second half. His 927 save percentage was fourth in the league and his five shutouts were tied for the most with four other goalies. He is a great person and a fierce competitor, but is he THE GUY? He has played 98 regular season games and is 55-26-5 and is 1-4 in the playoffs. Luongo has played 747 games and is 348-289-86 and is 32-31 in the playoffs. With the Canucks, Luongo is 233-121-44.
Is Luongo happy that he thought he was going to get traded and he was in limbo for months? No, but he will get over it because once again he is THE GUY!