Roberto Luongo epitomizes the goalie graveyard that is Vancouver. He arrived to great fanfare, only to have grand success speckled with mild failure and consequentially have the fan-base turn on him.
The man who was supposed to be this franchise’s saviour and guaranteed ticket to at least one Stanley Cup in the next decade has been all but run out of town. The only thing needed it seems to complete that process is for some t’s to be crossed and i’s to be dotted.
It would have been a forgone conclusion that with a Stanley Cup, Luongo’s number 1 would be retired. In fact, you may as well retire every number of the first Vancouver Canucks team to win one. Now with Lu headed out and the Canucks organization ready to push this Ring of Honour gimmick on us, it begs the question: Is Roberto Luongo deserving of said honour?
The bar that’s been set is that of Kirk McLean. His #1 was unveiled in the Ring of Honour in the famed 40thseason of the franchise; one that saw Roberto Luongo also wearing #1, lead his team to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
We have to rule out Lu’s number ever being retired by the Canucks. Sure, if he was to stay and actually finish his career here, we have a debate for his number to be retired, even without a Cup. That looks less likely than Columbus ever winning a playoff game, so we mosey on over to Captain Kirk McLean.
That’s exactly where we begin. Kirk McLean was so aptly named Captain Kirk after the Star Trek character but he never actually was captain. Not to say he wasn’t a leader in the dressing room, but Roberto actually bore the C for Vancouver. Granted, he only clinged on to it for one season. Even when he hasn’t had it, the consummate professional he has been. Wait, that’s a Star Wars reference.
Roberto Luongo’s first NHL playoff game saw him make 72 saves in a 5-4 4OT victory. Through those playoffs and the next three Canucks post-seasons, Luongo accrued 32 playoff wins. Kirk McLean didn’t win his 32nd playoff game until the year after the run to the Stanley Cup Final, his 6th post-season and 8th season with the Canucks.
The numbers are close no doubt, but we can break it down more. This is about Luongo being better than McLean, so let’s look at overall playoff records. Luongo currently sits at 32-29 in 5 playoffs and 6 NHL seasons. McLean retired with an overall record of 34-34 over 7 playoffs (all with the Canucks) and 16 NHL seasons.
Regular Season Sensation
The third round isn’t even close as Roberto Luongo lays the knockout punch to Kirk McLean. If Bobby Lu is to leave Vancouver this off-season, he departs with a regular season record of 224-115-41. According to my calculations, that’s a .633 points %. Again, this is all over a span of six regular seasons
Kirk, in all his ’94 glory left Vancouver in 97-98 to Carolina with a then franchise best record of 211-228-62. This is a points % of .486.
Of course I am taking into account OT/SO losses for Luongo and OTL/TIES for McLean, all worth one point.
Long Term, but on Good Terms
The only thing that could hamper Gillis’ efforts to get Luongo out of here is the term on his contract. That many years is not too attractive for most teams, even if they do really need or want a better goalie.
Thankfully though, Roberto Luongo is no Pavel Bure. Should he leave, it will be on good terms with management at the very least. If Luongo hates Alain Vigneault’s guts, I wouldn’t blame him but the point is that 10-15 years from now when we are considering putting Luongo’s figure up in the Ring of Honour, the debate won’t be as split as it is with Bure having his number retired.
Stats…they lie as much as Shakira’s hips
Wins: Roberto: 224 (1), McLean: 211 (2) – Advantage: Luongo
GAA: Roberto: 2.35 (4), McLean: 3.28 (23) – Rob McVicar and Murray Bannerman played a total of 22:44 in Canucks colours. They can kiss Luongo’s derriere. 3rd place is held down by Cory Schneider who’s played 318 less games in a Canucks uniform than Luongo. Advantage: Luongo
Sv%: Luongo: .920 (3), McLean: .886 (20) – Tyler Moss played 22:27 in a 2002-03 game to hold down 1st with a .929 Sv% so hey, let’s put him up there. Then we have Mr. Schneider again at #2 with a .928 Sv%. Again, he’s played more than 300 games less than Luongo. Advantage: Luongo
(stats credit to Canucks.com)
TOI: Luongo and McLean along with Richard Brodeur are the only goalies in franchise history to play over 20,000 minutes. In fact, with Kirk at 29,943, Roberto at 22,555 and Richard at 21,546, the next highest is Dan Cloutier at 12,012. This represents longevity and extreme importance to the success of the team. Without these guys playing big minutes, you’re relying on your backup a lot more which probably means your starter isn’t very good. Richard Brodeur is also a candidate to be inducted into the ROH one day.
To wrap this pup-dog up, Roberto Luongo is a guaranteed Ring of Honouree once he retires. Assuming he doesn’t burn any bridges from now until the time he leaves, it’s a done deal.
Heck, even if he had some sort of spat with Mike Gillis, it won’t be Gillis who’s around as GM when Luongo is inevitably inducted into the Ring of Honour. That’s exactly why Gillis seems to be warm to the idea of retiring Bure.
I should actually give Gillis some credit because if it weren’t for his team, there would be no Ring Of Honour and Roberto Luongo would never be honoured should he leave Vancouver this off-season. To me, that idea just seems wrong for a guy who has done so much for this organization. Mark my words, if there’s no Ring of Honour, Kirk McLean doesn’t have anything celebrating his Canucks legacy.
Can we just be honest here? Kirk McLean was mainly inducted due to his leading of the team to the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. His stats weren’t ever that great and the only reason he ever held the franchise wins mark was because of spending 11 seasons here. Roberto Luongo has actually been an elite goalie in addition to taking the team to the Stanley Cup Final.
Hell, I could even argue Luongo has done more for this franchise than the other 3 current inductees, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepts and Orland Kurtenbach, but I digress.
Roberto Luongo, your 2022 inductee into the Vancouver Canucks Ring of Honour.