In this era of goaltending controversies (who am I kidding, Vancouver has been a constant source of goaltending drama since Jeff Brown met Mrs. Kirk McLean), there are some strong opinions out there about what the Canucks should do with their 'problem'. You know, the problem that's helped push them to the top of the divisional standings despite not playing what could be considered standout hockey to start the year. The fan base seems divided into three camps: the ones who want to see Luongo gone, the ones who think that they should actually trade Schneider because his return will be better for the Canucks, and the 3rd faction: those who want the Canucks to hang on to Lu for now. I know he's asked for a trade, but to me this really makes the most sense, and you need to look at Bunny Larocque as the reason why. For you younger folks, Michel 'Bunny' Laroque was the backup for Ken Dryden during the Montreal Canadiens dominant 1970's period. During his run, he shared 4 Vezina trophies (back when they gave it to the tandem as opposed to the individual goalie), 3 with Dryden and one with Denis Heron and Richard Sevigny. And while Dryden was pretty much the best goaltender of the era, Larocque would easily have been the #1 on the other 15 teams in the NHL, posting some impressive numbers. 1975-76 saw Larocque play 22 games for a record of 16-1-3. One outright loss, in the pre-overtime era. Now we may never see another team as dominant as those Habs teams from the 70's again, but one of the main reasons they were so good (and won 4 Stanley Cups in that time frame) was they got amazing goaltending. They treated it as a 1-2 punch, and teams certainly had no better chance of beating them if the backup was the starter for the evening. Let's be clear here: this year's Vancouver Canucks are not the reincarnation of the aforementioned Habs teams. But they are a team that can be a Cup contender. With Ryan Kesler back practicing with the team, and David Booth eventually returning, perhaps the 'ride out the storm' approach taken by Mike Gillis is the more practical one. I really don't believe that Roberto Luongo will get the bulk of the work this season, and we're going to see Schneider on a run here for the next few games, barring a total disaster. But unless George McPhee calls up dangling Nicklas Backstrom, my guess is we'll be rolling with the best 1-2 punch in the NHL for a while, and the only people it's distracting to are the ones who are having trouble making it fit into their narratives about the Canucks.
The Canucks goaltending controversy
Nucks Misconduct | Feb 7