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Roberto Luongo pleased with playoffs performance

Jason Botchford has a defiant article up today for The Province, slamming those who chose to rip apart Roberto Luongo after yet another disappointing postseason. While there are many parts of his article I don’t necessarily agree with, there is one thing I can understand his point about: there’s been so much ripping on Luongo the past few days there’s nothing left to take apart.

The buzzards have come and gone and there is hardly anything left. Yet Luongo will keep on doing what he loves, being one of the most maddeningly inconsistent goaltenders in the NHL, and claiming that being the team’s captain is in no way a hindrance.

Before I get to Botchford’s article, here’s what Luongo had to say about his performance:

“Honestly, I felt good in the playoffs,” he said.

“I felt energized. I felt sharp. I felt aggressive. I battled a lot because of the traffic and the bumping. I adjusted certain things about my game to try and deal with it. I did a pretty good job. There was one game in there, I think it was Game 3, where they had a lot of rebounds and jamming. But the games in Chicago, I fought hard to see the puck.”

Listen, Luongo was far from the only problem on the Canucks in the second round. That being said, he was far from the miracle worker in net that most teams need as you get deeper in the playoffs. He wasn’t horrible, but he was far from the captain of the team that elevates his play to the level that inspires the rest of his team to play harder and stronger, overcoming adversity in the face of elimination.

Of course, if Sami Salo playing with one a half testicles isn’t inspiring enough for the team, I don’t know what Luongo could have done.

I digress. I’m not here to preach on how Roberto Luongo shouldn’t be captain (he shouldn’t) or how he wasn’t the great goaltender the Canucks needed him to be (he wasn’t). What I am saying is that there is something inherently wrong with the emotional makeup of this team, something we’ve seen the past two seasons and something that’s led to their disappointingly early exits.

Mr. Botchford says this about those who claim Luongo shouldn’t be captain:

He’s already been ripped for being an overrated, average Pez dispenser. What’s left? Oh right, his captaincy. The cupboards must be bare for people to be this worked up over that. Especially, considering he’s the first Vancouver captain in 16 years to lead the Canucks to the second round in consecutive seasons.

Well, I counter by saying that while Luongo has “led” the Canucks to the second round in two straight seasons, they’ve completely fallen on their faces once they got there. Not because they were outclassed or outplayed, but because they lacked the emotional fortitude to overcome the adversity they faced once they got there.

Is that Luongo’s fault? Not directly, but a hockey team generally takes on the persona of it’s captain. I don’t claim to know or understand the inner workings of a NHL locker room, but you have to think that having your team captain stationed 100 feet away from your bench for 98% of the game is not exactly how you need your team taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals.

Especially when said captain isn’t exactly playing at the top of his game, no matter what he might say.

If the Vancouver Canucks hope to build on this season and move deeper in the playoffs, things will have to change. The Sedins aren’t getting any younger and the team is on the verge of going into a bit of a “youth movement phase”. They have Roberto Luongo tied up the next 12 seasons, so he’s not going anywhere. Is it a good idea to give the captaincy to someone else? Is it really that big of a deal for this team, when it seems there might be other issues to focus on?

Perhaps, but having the leader of the team outwardly appear to emotional and inconsistent, all at the wrong times, isn’t exactly a model for success.

In his defense, Luongo did say that he’ll be quieter next season and not take questions on the mornings of games. That he admits these were a bit of a distraction speaks to the inherent issues when you have your goaltender become the captain.

Ok, so maybe this was about Roberto Luongo and the invisible “C” on his chest.