Skip to content

Under Pressure: Roberto Luongo

Sep 23, 2013, 1:19 PM EDT

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Jackets’ prospect Oscar Dansk loaned to Swedish club

    Jul 5, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Montreal Canadiens v Columbus Blue Jackets Montreal Canadiens v Columbus Blue Jackets

    He struggled in his first year pro split between the AHL and ECHL.

  2. Report: Bolts sign Mike Angelidis to a one-year, two-way deal

    Jul 5, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

    He’ll make $650,000 at the NHL level and $250,000 in the AHL.

  3. Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA

    Jul 5, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Braden Holtby Braden Holtby

    Hearings will take place in Toronto from July 20 to August 4

  4. Leafs sign Kadri to a one-year contract extension

    Jul 5, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT

    Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs gets set for a faceoff against the Boston Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 6, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.
(May 5, 2013 - Source: Claus Andersen/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    The deal will reportedly pay him $4.1 million next season.

  5. Report: Mikkel Boedker files for salary arbitration

    Jul 5, 2015, 3:08 PM EDT

    Mikkel Boedker AP

    His peak came in 2013-14: 19 goals, 51 points.

  6. Teacher-pest: Blue Jackets add Jarkko Ruutu to staff

    Jul 5, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    ruutugetty Getty Images

    Perhaps Blue Jackets prospects can learn from his scrappy ways.

  7. Clune is set to attend Leafs camp after signing with AHL’s Marlies

    Jul 5, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT

    Rich Clune AP

    He shared his story (and struggles) this past week.

  8. Report: Wild’s Haula files for arbitration

    Jul 5, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT

    haulagetty Getty Images

    That doesn’t guarantee that a hearing would take place, though.

  9. Changes continue for Canucks after reportedly letting go of their head trainer

    Jul 4, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT

    AP

    Vancouver started its development camp this weekend.

  10. Report: Contract negotiations between Blackhawks, Kruger ‘progressing OK’

    Jul 4, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT

    Getty Images

    His offensive totals were down, but was regularly used on penalty kill.

  11. Putting pen to paper: Wild re-sign Dubnyk

    Jul 4, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT

    AP

    They had agreed to terms last weekend.

  12. Oilers prospect Draisaitl ‘totally fine’ playing the wing

    Jul 4, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Getty Images

    Played 37 games with Edmonton last season before getting sent back to the WHL.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Voynov (2480)
  2. B. Saad (2452)
  3. Z. Kassian (2424)
  4. P. Kessel (2253)
  5. B. Richards (2219)
  1. M. Green (2130)
  2. R. O'Reilly (2094)
  3. M. St. Louis (2045)
  4. M. Richards (1819)
  5. J. Eichel (1725)