I also believe we should spend some time to reflect on this era of goaltending for Vancouver. When Roberto Luongo joined this team, he was viewed as this team's savior. We owe him our thanks for Alain Vigneault's first Jack Adams trophy, as well as for the incredible 47-win season that brought this city the hope that we would witness a lengthy 2007 playoff run. That very first season in Vancouver convinced this fanbase that the team had finally resolved its goaltending woes.
There are many other contributions we should thank him for, however, many of which have made an even greater impact on how this team has progressed throughout the past six years.
Thank you, Roberto Luongo, for the commitment and desire to play 75 games per season in your first several years with this team. Though you were unable to accomplish this feat in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons due to injuries, your will to represent this team in net, to exhaust yourself prior to each postseason, and to staple your backup goaltender to the bench demonstrate your selflessness and dedication to this team's ultimate success.
Even when the games no longer mattered, such as after we had been eliminated from the playoff race in 2008 by the Edmonton Oilers, you still dressed as the starting goaltender. One example is that final game against the Calgary Flames; Curtis Sanford relieved you only once you allowed three early goals, as you were to play all home games. Coach Vigneault's timeless remark, "Come on, Lui," still resonates as the moment I knew you were in control of this team's fate. You were the one who called the shots, and this team would live or die by your hand in those early years.
Thank you for your heroic performances in the playoffs, despite the untimely collapses in the games adjacent to those in which you played well. While your inconsistencies plagued this team each postseason, we must remember how spectacular you performed in select games rather than focus on your shortcomings. We thank you for playing well for our home crowd in the Stanley Cup Finals, and for your contributions to this city's rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks. Without you, we would not have had such fierce, anxious encounters with the likes of Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.
We also owe you our appreciation for your intensity and emotion during crucial matches. Your passion carried this team to new feats, showing us all that when you were focused and at your best, you were difficult to score against. We forgive you for your mental fragility and for appearing distraught for several minutes after each goal against; your lack of focus at times, your tendency to become flustered, and your need to spend a great deal of time recovering from mental lapses may have contributed to your reputation as inconsistent, but we understand human beings can be emotional and may need time to heal.
Thank you for attempting to continue playing in net even in instances when you were clearly struggling, such as after allowing a bad goal. Until last year, you had tremendous leeway each game, and you would not be relieved of your duties in net until you had allowed five or six goals against. As a result, in games when you were not focused early, the team would be facing a large deficit by the intermission; at times, several goals would have been scored against you in a short period, effectively placing this team at an enormous disadvantage. Thank you for your desire to remain this team's starter even during your worst moments, and for keeping the team's backup goaltenders secured to the bench; this demonstrates determination, though this did not frequently benefit the team.
We need not dwell on how we lost seven of our last eight matches at the conclusion of the 2007-08 season and missed the playoffs by three points as a result. It would not be appropriate at this time for us to linger on the Scott Neidermayer lob shot in 2007, nor the Patrick Kane hat trick in 2009, nor the Dustin Byfuglien hat trick in 2010, nor the frightening Blackhawks comeback of the 2011 quarterfinals, nor even the various collapses at TD Garden in Boston. None of that matters.
Thank you for the time you spent representing this team as its leader. Your time as this team's captain was memorable and shall not be forgotten. You carried the burden of addressing this team's struggles throughout that time, and used the term "we" rather than "I" when describing the disappointments. Never once did you blame yourself for some of those losses. As such, you have proven to be a role model for those who wish to be the very best. Your words have always been wise -- yes, you would have saved that Game 2 overtime goal, as you stayed deeper in your net than the opposing goaltender.
We were fortunate to watch both you and some of the most complete rosters in Canucks history play at the same time. It was truly a treat to finally witness the fantasy that many had dreamed of when we first acquired your services: "what would the 2003 team have been with Luongo in net?" We were pleasantly surprised when the teams of recent years, especially 2011, became regarded as the greatest offensive rosters in franchise history. Behind arguably the most complete and dominant rosters to have ever played for Vancouver, you played just as you always would. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to witness potential greatness behind a tremendous lineup, and for doing your part to achieve the same result as always.
We also would like to show our gratitude for your effective, unorthodox lunging style. Your desire to lean forward and stretch your limbs desperately along the ice may have cost us more goals than prevented them, but we will always appreciate your heart and determination to strike the ice surface with your chest in case a puck slides low towards the middle of the net.
Your humility and honesty are both much appreciated. It is no question when you were named this team's captain the year before your first contract expired, it was solely because of your leadership qualities. During this time now, we respect your reasons for leaving this city; another goaltender has succeeded you in net here, and there is understandably no room for two goaltenders to co-exist on one roster. We are glad, as you have stated, that you will go anywhere if there is a trade that will help this team.
We shall always remember the humorous times as well. You always brought a smile to those who witnessed your puckhandling skills, and we will not soon forget the look on Dave Nonis' face when you weren't available to start the Game 5 overtime against the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Your cold October starts every year became an amusing trend after a while, and your inability to play "cold" after sitting a few games while ironically only allowing each of your first several backups one start per month will also never be forgotten.
It was a fun and memorable six years, Roberto Luongo. Though it was an anxious time and one with great expectations, we are glad to have become familiar with you. We will always remember the kind of goaltender you were, and we wish you all the best in the future.
Ahhh, I see what you've done here. Bravo sir, very amusing because it's true.
On another note, I've seen many posts here about how Luongo is this franchise's best goalie ever, that very well might be true but I would lean more toward Kirk Mclean. No doubt however that Luongo has been right up there and played a lot of amazing games for the Canucks. The thing is, when you try and claim the title of best goalie in franchise history on a team with a long long history of crap goaltending, how much does that really mean?