The Vancouver Canucks have been a team that appears to have taken a step back this summer. With a roster that isn’t any stronger than the one that has disappointed in the playoffs the last several years, and Roberto Luongo growing into an even bigger distraction, this team could be in trouble in 2013-14.
In fact, it’s the Luongo distraction that will likely blow up in the collective faces of the organization at some point this season. Mike Gillis made the decision to trade younger, cheaper Cory Schneider instead of the goaltender that had all but packed his bags to leave Vancouver. Actually, he did pack his bags.
Luongo has made no secret of his desire to get out of Vancouver. It wasn’t even so much a matter of wanting a starting gig so much as it was the fact that the marriage simply had to end. Fans didn’t want him there, he was bounced around in trade rumors for a year, and he wanted out.
But with the Schneider trade, Luongo has very little choice but to return to the organization that almost exiled him this summer. According to Gillis, he’s coming around to the idea of coming back. Which is good, since it’s almost August, and you’d probably want the guy accepting the fact that he’s going to be around this season by now.
If Luongo agrees to return to Vancouver without complaint, that’s terrific. It’ll go well for a couple of months. But then he’ll start to struggle. And then the Canucks will end up bounced from the postseason early on again, and Luongo will become the scapegoat for it, just as he has nearly every year in the last four or five seasons.
Then what? This is a situation that has the potential to do more harm than good for the Canucks. Anything short of a Stanley Cup, and the blame will end up back on Luongo, and you’ll have a disaster on your hands. Which will cost Gillis his job. Of course, we’ll wait to see how it shakes out, but it doesn’t look to promising from here.