Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE
Luongo's stellar first season in Vancouver may have set the bar unsustainably high over the long term.
Once fans bought in to the idea that he was a true No. 1 goaltender who wouldn't let them down, expectations rose.
Eventually, so did the criticisms. Luongo was usually great, but when he did fail, he tended to do it spectacularly.
The trend reached worrisome levels in the 2010 playoffs against Chicago and showed itself again in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against Boston.
Despite his nerves of steel during his gold-medal winning performance in the 2010 Olympics, Luongo had developed a reputation as the opposite of a big-game goaltender.
Once the Canucks lost the first two games of the 2012 playoffs to the Los Angeles Kings, fans were ready for a change in net, even as they acknowledged that Luongo was not at fault for the losses. Cory Schneider came in and performed admirably, and Vancouver lost anyway.
Even though the sequence of events sets the stage for Schneider's ascension as a No. 1 goalie in Vancouver, it also softened the mood towards Luongo.
No longer the whipping boy, fans began to remember the good moments instead of dwelling only on the bad. They even fretted about whether Luongo's skills would come back to haunt them when he took to the NHL ice in another team's uniform.
Players will never admit that fan reaction impacts their play, but for Luongo, it's like a pressure valve was released at the end of the playoffs. He'll enjoy returning to the days of adoration and shouts of "Looooouuu" from his hometown fans.