It was the summer of 2006 – a rough time to be a Canucks fan. Coming off the locked-out 2004-05 season, Vancouver had just finished ninth in the Western Conference and missed the playoffs.
The “West Coast Express” was a shadow of its pre-Steve Moore incident self, and Todd Bertuzzi was an anchor weighing down the team.
That summer, GM Dave Nonis made one of the best trades in Vancouver Canucks history sending Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld to the Florida Panthers for Roberto Luongo, Lucas Krajicek and a sixth-round draft pick.
The move single handedly turned around the Canucks organization.
In Luongo’s eight seasons in Vancouver, the team won six division titles and two Presidents’ Trophies.
They made it to the second round of the playoffs three times, and once all the way to the Final. During that 2011 run, they came within one win of the Stanley Cup. One more win that year and their names would be engraved on the ultimate trophy.
Luongo compiled an impressive list of personal achievements in Vancouver too. Amongst Canucks goaltenders, he is the best of all time, holding records for the longest shutout streak (242:36 minutes), most wins in a season (47), most shutouts in a season (9), most all-time shutouts (33) and most wins (243).
As a Canuck, Luongo was nominated for the Vezina trophy twice and the Hart and Lester B. Pearson trophies once each.
Achievements are one thing, but the feelings he gave us are another. Canucks fans will never forget the 2006-07 season – his first year in Vancouver – when Luongo singlehandedly carried the team into the playoffs.
Over his time here, Luongo made so many insane saves that brought us out of our seats, that made us turn to the person next to us in disbelief, yelling “holy sh**!” A split second later, we’d be cheering and “Luuu-ing” in appreciation. These saves were like goals to the fans – always followed by high fives and towel waving.
Controversy or not, he always had the ability to amaze us with reflex saves you could hardly comprehend.
He carried the Canucks through the Dallas series and took on the goliath Anaheim all by himself. That’s not much of a stretch, it really was Luongo vs. the Ducks, and it was a hell of a battle. During that series, Luongo set an NHL record for most shots faced in a playoff game (76). The Luongo Show was breathtaking and unbelievable. He made us cheer as much as Pavel Bure did – quite something for a goalie to do.
For me personally, Luongo is by far the player I’ve written most about. He probably is for most Canucks bloggers and current beat writers.
In April 2012 I was an intern at TSN.ca, and immediately after the Canucks were swept by the L.A. Kings, I was asked to write a post on the newly developing goaltending controversy between Luongo and Cory Schneider.
A couple of days later my boss pulled up some stats on his computer and showed me it was the most read post on TSN.ca two days straight.
Nothing to do with me, obviously, and everything to do with how much this country cares about one of its best goaltenders.
He gave me the most read story on Canada’s most read sports website in my second week there – that was pretty awesome.
Now it’s time to turn the page. Eddie Lack is the goalie of the future, and he looks to have the skills and personality to make it here. But as we look to the future, let’s not forget to appreciate the past.
[youtube id= “A7ejhRPZvSk”]