Roberto Luongo made his fourth consecutive start Monday night for the Vancouver Canucks. Any other year that would be nothing of note, but given the offseason the Canucks went through, it’s a bit head-scratching.
The Canucks seemed all but committed to Cory Schneider after giving the former backup a three-year contract extension worth $12 million. The secondary move, after signing that extension, was obvious. The Canucks would have to trade Luongo.
However, the lockout came and went, and once the league reopened for business, Vancouver was left with just a week or so to unload the goaltender before the season began. They didn’t do that, and they opened the season with both goalies on the roster. That’s worked out well so far, if you’re in Camp Luongo at least. He’s seen the bulk of the action thus far, and that’s basically because he’s earned it. He’s 3-0-2 so far with a 1.53 goals against average and a .940 save percentage.
That’s not sitting well with Camp Scheider, of course, where the former Boston College netminder’s agent, Mike Liut, isn’t thrilled with how much action his client has seen this season.
“Our concern is we were hoping that this would be the year that Cory would play 75 percent of the games,” Liut told the Vancouver Sun in an interview Monday. “We are only interested in resolution, we are not going to get into the finger-pointing game and to that end you have to take a step back and you have to give them latitude to make a business decision.”
Schneider has only made four starts, including an opening night disaster in which he allowed five goals before being lifted for Luongo.
“Is Roberto going to be there all year?” Liut said. “It’s certainly looking like he’s going to be or both will be there until the [April 3] trade deadline. What happens after that, we’ll have to react to that. But my concern is in the obvious, we have a 48-game season and you’ve got two goalies of their stature.
“Roberto is established, everybody knows what he can do, and you’ve got another one in Cory, who hopes to get an opportunity to play for the first time (as a No. 1 goalie), and we’ve got this fractured season.”
Of course, it won’t be easy for Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis to trade a player of Luongo’s stature and get the most in return, especially when you consider the hefty contract that he’s playing under. Gillis hasn’t been shy when asked about Luongo trade talks, but obviously nothing has come of those talks yet. Gillis raised some eyebrows this weekend when he was in Washington checking out the Capitals-Penguins game, but he denies there being any sort of goaltending talks between the Canucks and Capitals.
Still, there are some who want this resolved sooner than later, and no one wants that more than Liut.
“If they are both there for the entire season, and it’s a 48-game season, and Roberto plays 40 games, that’s a disaster,” Liut told the Vancouver Sun. “That’s an extreme and I don’t think that’s going to happen, but certainly the sooner the better.
“Vancouver has a decision to make with their goaltending, everybody knows that. We don’t need to add more to it than that. Everyone wants it resolved and if it can get resolved that will be better for everybody.”
Schneider, to his credit, is remaining diplomatic in regards to the entire situation.
“As a pro, you accept that,” Schneider said, according to Sportsnet. “If you’re being outplayed, somebody’s going to take your job and it’s as simple as that. Nothing is given and nothing is guaranteed in this world.”
Until a decision is made and a resolution is reached, expect the awkwardness to continue. However, if Vancouver continues to win hockey games, maybe that’s something Gillis and Co. choose to live with for at least one more (albeit shortened) season.