Roberto Luongo is the only goaltender in the league who is the captain of his respective team. A captain has the responsibility of talking to the referees during the game regarding penalty calls or concerns they have, and to face the media every single day. A goaltender cannot leave the crease to talk to referees, and talking to the media every day takes a toll on someone that has a lot to focus on. So should Luongo be captain or not?
A goaltender is a unique position in hockey. It is a team sport, but the position is largely based on individual performance, and as an ice hockey goaltender myself, found that it takes a lot more focus and an introvert personality to be successful. Bobby Lou is an emotional person, and he takes the game extremely seriously and practices as hard as anyone in the league, something that coach Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis thought would rub off on his teammates, and named him team captain. I full heartedly believed that it was the right decision, even though it shocked me at first. The Canucks had players such as Ryan Kesler, Mattias Ohlund and Willie Mitchell that can fill the void left by Markus Naslund when he left for the Rangers 2 years ago. The players in the dressing room were all up for it, and the feeling around the league was the same. It seemed like a move GM Mike Gillis would pull off, something out of the ordinary.
As time went by however, the negatives started to show, particularly this season. Luongo was not performing up to his capabilities, and the responsibility of facing the media everyday seemed like it was weighing down on him. Most goalies only address them post-game, but Louie had to pre-game as well, and it could effect his preparation. Goaltenders have to get ready physically and mentally, and having to face some tough questions did not do him any good.
Another negative of him wearing the C is the feeling that he's throwing the team under the bus when he reflects on a bad game from the team. Again, the position is individualized compared to forwards and defensemen, and when he says things like "The guys in front of me didn't do a good job of clearing the rebounds tonight, and we have to tighten up for next game" sounds like he's criticizing everyone but himself. If someone like Kesler were to say that, it's just another comment from another player. I'm not a part of the team, but it could become a distraction when reporters report it as a "selfish remark" and the team gets questioned about why their goaltender and captain is throwing the team under the bus, when he's only giving a fair assessment of the game, which can turn into a distraction for the whole team at the worst of times.
Should Luongo keep the C and stay Captain Canuck? I believe that he should let go of the position and give it to someone else, but it will all come down this summer. Lou is a competitive player, and he loves challenges and works extremely hard, but I feel like the captaincy is more than he can chew, not because of who he is as a person, but because of the position that he plays. There's a reason why Ryan Miller or Martin Brodeur aren't captains for their teams, because they cannot handle the duties of being the number one goaltender and the responsibilities that come with the C on the chest, or mask in this context. As a Canucks fan, I can only hope that Luongo admits defeat with this issue, and hands it to someone else on the team to become the leader on the ice and dressing room, something he cannot deal with as a goaltender in a pressure-packed city.
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