Why the Boston Bruins Should Not Consider Goaltender Roberto Luongo
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Hollywood often follows a script in which the one-time enemy changes his character and attitude to become the hero.
According to script, the hero wasn't really a bad guy, just misunderstood. When treated with respect and given a chance to get out of his poor environment, the bad guy becomes a good guy.
Sports can work out in that same manner. Nearly three decades ago, no player was more hated in Boston than Brad Park of the New York Rangers. An excellent defenseman, Park was probably the second-best player at his position in the NHL. But Bobby Orr of the Bruins was the best.
Early on in the season, the Rangers and the Bruins were in need of a change in 1975. The Rangers decided they could part with Park and star center Jean Ratelle, while the Bruins decided that record-setting center Phil Esposito was no longer untouchable.
Emile Francis and Harry Sinden worked a blockbuster trade that saw Park and Ratelle, along with another defender, Joe Zanussi, go to Boston in exchange for Esposito and defenseman Carol Vadnais.
Park was not only despised by the Bruins' fans, but loathed by Bruins' players. All for naught, however, as Park and Ratelle became two of the most valuable Bruins over the next five seasons.
It would seem the Bruins might be in a position to repeat that scenario by acquiring Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo.
Goaltender Tim Thomas's decision to take a personal leave of absence during the 2012-13 season has put the Bruins in a difficult spot. GM Peter Chiarelli and Coach Claude Julien's confidence in Tuukka Rask will be tested this season.
Rask appears to have the characteristics needed to become an excellent No. 1 goalie. When Thomas was injured in 2009-10, Rask had to step up and take over as the team's primary goalie. He finished the season with a 1.97 goals against average, the best mark of any goaltender in the league.
It's one thing to step up after an injury, but it's another to take over as the No. 1 goalie. Rask must prove that he is good enough to do the job. It's not about potential any longer. It's about performance.
But shouldn't the Bruins be considering Luongo for the position? The Canucks are ready to part ways with him and he has been one of the league's best goalies for years.
Wouldn't Luongo give the Bruins a dependable alternative if Rask is not up for the job?
No. And if Chiarelli and Julien are considering the idea, they should toss it.
The presence of Luongo would undermine Rask's confidence. If Rask saw Luongo in training camp, he would come to the conclusion that the team did not believe in him. The presence of a veteran would show the team is not sure of Rask's ability. If the team doubts his ability, Rask may start to doubt himself.
Should the Bruins consider going after Roberto Luongo?
Rask is not going to play every game, but his confidence would erode if he sees Luongo and not Anton Khudobin in the backup role.
Even if Rask's state of mind is not at risk, Luongo's mental state is shaky. His recent playoff performances with the Canucks were disastrous. In 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks terrorized him and sent him to the bench as they defeated the Canucks in six games and then won the Stanley Cup.
In 2011, the Blackhawks nearly came back from an 0-3 deficit against the Canucks by overpowering Luongo again. While the Canucks eventually survived the eighth-seeded Blackhawks, Luongo was bombarded by the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, looking particularly shaky in the three games in Boston.
In the 2012 playoffs, Luongo lost the first two games of the Canucks' first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings and was replaced by Cory Schneider. The Canucks lost the series in five games.
Quite simply, Luongo is damaged goods. If Luongo was stronger mentally, the Bruins never would have ripped goal after goal past him in the 2011 Finals. They knew that if they could put high shots on him, they could score goals.
If you want to see Bruins winger Brad Marchand smile, just tell him that he's facing Luongo in the net.
This would not be a case of the misunderstood player getting a new opportunity. This would be the case of a broken man shattering into pieces.
It would not be pretty for Luongo or the Bruins.
Luongo should never be allowed to put on the Black and Gold. Not for his sake, and not for the team's.
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