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Under Pressure: Roberto Luongo

Sep 23, 2013, 1:19 PM EST

Roberto Luongo Getty Images

“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Vancouver Canucks, we pick…goalie Roberto Luongo.

Full disclosure: we were going to pick Ryan Kesler for this, because 1) there’s quite a bit of pressure on Kesler to return to form, and 2) everyone’s kind of sick of the Canucks’ goaltending saga.

But we just couldn’t do it — nobody’s under more pressure this season in Vancouver than Luongo, for these reasons:

1) His reputation is on the line. Earlier this month, he said his goal is to “get back to where I was two years ago and re-establish myself as one of the best in the league.” Luongo finished the 2013 season with a .907 save percentage, his lowest mark since his rookie season with the Islanders.

2) There’s no legitimate Plan B for the Canucks. Vancouver’s backup is probably going to be Eddie Lack, a 25-year-old who’s yet to make his NHL debut and is coming off hip surgery. Which is to say, Lack is no Cory Schneider. Not yet anyway. If Luongo isn’t good, the Canucks could miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

3) The Olympics. Luongo wants to play for Team Canada again. “This is a big year for me,” he said. “I have been sitting on the bench for a while and I want to show everybody what I can do. We all know it’s an Olympic year so I just want to make the best of it.”

On top of all that, Luongo’s long-term future in Vancouver is far from clear, even though the 34-year-old is signed through 2021-22. Remember, the Canucks still have one of their compliance buyouts remaining. And while ownership was obviously loathe to use it this past summer, if Luongo struggles badly this season, the pressure from fans (a.k.a. customers) to use it next June will be immense. Vancouver hockey fans pay some of the highest ticket prices in the NHL. In return, they expect ownership to use its deep pockets to put the best team possible on the ice.

But that debate can wait for later, if necessary. (We don’t even want to get into the whole “Luongo might not actually mind getting bought out” angle.)

Luongo, by the way, didn’t get off to the best start in the preseason; on Wednesday, he allowed four goals in the first 12:24 versus the Oilers, including this stinker:

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

  1. canucks30 - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Luongo’s been under pressure since the moment he arrived in Vancouver in 2006.

    This year in no more different than 2006, 2010, 2011 or any other year.

    He’s playing the most scrutinized position in hockey in one of the NHL’s toughest markets. Especially on goaltenders. There is a reason they call it a “Goalie Graveyard” 🎃

    A better choice for this article would have been Mike Gillis.

  2. sjsblitz - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    He better be under pressure, him and Howard are my starters in my Fantasy league!

    • goalieguy37 - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      Luongo is your fantasy starter? sucker.
      Howard is solid….

    • juzzi7 - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      Are you going for high draft picks next year ?

      • sjsblitz - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        Took him in Round 7, not much risk that late in a draft :P

  3. earpaniac - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    If he does poorly, and they have to do a buyout, I have a feeling at the same time they will be announcing their search for a new GM.

  4. r4n6er - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Once Lou and the nucks figure out Torts new system he will be fone. There is no story here.

    • Jason Brough - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:50 PM

  5. deezenucks - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    The only suckers are the ones who didnt draft him. He is out to prove himself and will be extremely motivated. Luo is a number one without a proven backup on a team that has finishes near the top of the west the last few a seasons. Wings almost didnt make the playoffs and now their in the east… And I have given Luo my fair share of shots.

  6. amityvillefun - Sep 23, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Pfft. If the Canucks management had any brains, they would have signed up Tim Thomas to get the job done right!

    Nah, just keep going with poor “I just need my tires pumped” Luongo. Dude needs a big “L” tattooed on his forehead…

    • nuckss - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      But the Canucks are located in a socialist worker’s paradise. I don’t think Tim “Tea Party” Thomas could handle that.

  7. gaborik104life - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    I don’t follow Vancouver that much other than what is on this site. But how is Torts not the person under pressure or even the second guy as you chose Kesler. He has to come in show he is still a good coach, can deal with the media without any crazy rants or a limited amount as I’m sure some will occur, show the sedins it’s worth it to stay, handle the situation of goaltending, and the fans in Van who I think it’s safe to say are much more intense than the Rangers, etc… Not really saying he should beat out Lu but no mention at all.

  8. blomfeld - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    BINGO BONGO, ROBERTO LUONGO !

    You nailed it Brough, as this over-rated Michelin Man is now under the ‘biggest’ pressure of his entire career, no two ways about it ! Or is he ? Luongo’s certainly committed himself to being a Canuck for the coming 2013-14 campaign for the ‘obvious’ personal financial reasons, that much is now clear (ie: contrary to my earlier postulation that he wouldn’t even show up for training camp). Beyond that however, even some lowly salmon swimming in the Fraser River knows that the man is gone next summer. So does that really equate to pressure ? … you know, when you’ve already packed your bags and ‘prepaid’ your check out from the hotel in advance ? I personally would say no, though perhaps one of the Canuckle faithful could be kind enough to elucidate for the benefit of all ?

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