It has been 5 years since ex Canuck GM, Dave Nonis brought in Roberto Luongo on the sunny day of June 23, 2006. It is arguably the biggest trade in Canuck history (at least that went well). Looking back at the innocent, yet promising 27 year old, who would ever think that he bring so much success to the Canuck organization but blamed in the media for every disappointment. On that day in June,the Vancouver Canucks knew they had the best.
Since arriving in Vancouver, all Roberto has faced is the question: is he the best? Luongo has continued to prove all of his doubters wrong through his play. Who could forget his first year in Vancouver where he out duelled Marty Turco in a shooters nightmare in the first round of the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs? Since that marvellous first season, Bobby-Luo has never gone higher than a 2.57 goals against average or lower then a .913 save percentage. Every year Luongo blanks his opponent at least 4 times a year. Let’s not forget to mention he has lead his team to the promised land 4 out of the 5 seasons. The most recent playoffs, Roberto carried his Canucks past 3 difficult oppositions, until they stumbled 1 game short in the finals. The stats speak for themselves, he is the best.
Roberto Luongo not only has the numbers to back his play up, but he has earned praise around hockey with countless awards and honours. In the years we have the dreadful all-star game, our own Canuck puck stopper has been invited every season. In 2007, Roberto won the Mark Messier Leadership Award, the highest honour a leader can get. Hockey Canada has invited him to the 2006 and 2010 Olympic winter games, where the Vancouver 2010 tournament ended with Luongo waving the golden Canadian flag as the crowd chanted LLLLLUUUUOOOOO! This past season we saw Luongo posting career best numbers earning him his third Vezina nomination and securing the Jennings for having the fewest goals against in the NHL. It seems like the awards are on an unstoppable rate for the best goalie in the NHL.
The anti-Luongo movement is poorly supported with arguments from fans and media in Vancouver and around the NHL. At first, most questioned his ability to play in the playoffs, and then he played his first series in the 2006 playoffs and shut down that genius idea. Next the fans and media wondered if he could win the big game. The 2010 Olympics’ came around and Roberto became a hero to our great nation. Running out of feeble points, Luongo haters came up with the Blackhawk theory, saying that the Canucks led by Luongo can never make it past the Hawks. Well, Luongo took the Hawks to a game 7 this year, where he shut the door until gritty Alex Burrows sniped the puck past Crawford. Now the strongest case against Roberto is him not having a cup ring. These people forget that many greats don’t get to kiss that silver hardware until late in their career, as in Bourque, Yzerman, and Brind’Amour. There are many that won’t even get a chance; Iginla, Dionne, and Hawerchuk. The book is still out on Roberto Luongo, but he has already been to the finals once and is part of an excellent core group of players in Vancouver that will be a serious threat for Lord Stanley over the next five years. Roberto continues to prove all of his doubters wrong, showing his ability to be the best.
There isn’t a goalie I would rather have lace up for my team than Roberto Luongo. If I was to build a team around a goaltender, then I would take him in a heartbeat. Year after year, Luongo is constantly putting up hall of fame numbers. Looking around the NHL, we as Canuck fans are lucky. Thomas was a backup last year to Rask; Brodeur is on a steep decline; Kipprusoff isn’t looking the same anymore; Price is now into his first year as a true number one; and Miller’s stats are good but not quite Luongo-like. The Vancouver media and fans should realise how blessed we are to have a goalie of this stature, especially considering the goalie graveyard we used to have. Let’s sit back and enjoy all that we have until it is gone. Roberto Luongo is the best.