by Tyler Rowe
There has been a typically Vancouver-ly discussion this week about what it really means to see Cory Schneider as the Canucks’ backstop in games 3 and 4, and presumably in every game after that, since it would go against playoff logic to swap out the goalie who won the previous game. Of course, should the Canucks lose any one of the next three, there will be no more games. The discussion gets more interesting if Vancouver pulls off the <1% upset, but that’s not something we really have to start talking about until next week, thanks to some poor arena managment. I’ll tell you what the real problem is as far as scheduling goes: They wrote a song for you, and it was all yellow. But I digress.
The conversation on Schneider’s starts seems to largely be going like this:
Fan A: “So, I guess since Luongo isn’t starting, that means that in the off-season, instead of trading the comparatively unproven Schneider for picks and prospects or as part of a bigger deal, that means we’ll be trading the best goalie the franchise has ever had, to one of the handful of teams that could take him. Of course this means he’ll have to waive his no-trade clause and we’ll have to find a club that wants to pay him until he’s 64 years old…”
Fan B: “Yeah, eff that guy! Live by the ginger, die by the ginger!* That’s obviously what it means when he starts in the playoffs! Luongo’s wife is from Florida—if he didn’t want to go home to the Sunshine State, why didn’t he make the team in front of him score more goals!?”
*Note: As a ginger, I am allowed to use that word. That is our word; we took it back, and we don’t like it when you call us that. Lousy normies, always out in the sun.
Okay, fine. I’m straw-manning that argument worse than Rush Limbaugh in a birth-control debate (“how much sex does she need to have!?!?”), but it’s something you’re hearing a lot of in the media, on the Internet, and in bars across supernatural BC.
I would make the point that Schneider starting indefinitely until either the curtain comes down (likely) or a reevaluation is neccessary in later rounds (sadly less likely), has more to do with trading Schneider than with seeing the Big Grease shipped out. Right now, Cory Schneider is not only playing better hockey than his Montreal-born counterpart, the team is playing better in front of him (perhaps because they don’t take him for granted). Makes sense from a hockey standpoint, and it might not tell us anything about Gillis’ plans for the offseason. But more to my point, what better time is there to show off your best piece of trade-bait? Every game Cory Schneider plays, it raises his value on the market. Playing Schneider seems like a win-win: one win for the actual wins you might get with him playing better right now, and another win for getting to show him off right before his RFA summer.
Of course, this conversation is based on the prevailing logic that it would be folly to pay both netminders, especially with Eddie Lack making a good case for himself as a legitimate backup. Maybe Gillis will decide that sinking somewhere around $9 million into the goaltending position is worth it for the flexibility it allows. I for one, would not agree with that course of action, and I believe the goaltenders might disagree with it as well.
There’s also the notion that if Luongo is to remain the #1 in stature as well as sweater, it will mean the end of Alain Vigneault in Vancouver because he is showing, by rolling Schneider in the playoffs, that he is not comfortable going forward with Luongo. There are plenty of examples in the history of sport where coaches are moved because they can’t mesh with star players; I don’t believe this is one of them. If Vigneault was trying to make a statement about his comfort level with Luongo, I can’t imagine Viggy would have started Bobby Lou for games one and two.
The best counterpoint that I’ve heard so far is whether or not Luongo will actually want to remain a Vancouver Canuck after the dust has settled. Not playing in critical games is something that would rankle the cankles of any Vezina finalist, let alone one with such a (apparently) high opinion of himself. But that is perhaps the toughest thing of all to speculate on.
I’m not saying the Canucks shouldn’t trade Luongo if they can convince him to waive his no-trade clause. Schneider will be had for less money, he doesn’t have Luongo’s consistency issues, he’s younger, and the fans don’t hate him (yet). But Occam tells us that the simplest answer is usually the best one, and there are a lot more impediments to moving Luongo than there are to moving Schneider. The fact that Schneider is playing right now might tell us that he is the goalie of the future on Griffith’s Way. But it might just as easily show us that he’s being showcased for trade.