Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider: Vancouver Canucks' Goalie Debate Begins

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2013

Vancouver's Cory Schneider had a difficult opening night.
Vancouver's Cory Schneider had a difficult opening night.Rich Lam/Getty Images

Mike Gillis has to know that the Vancouver Canucks are inviting controversy to make a permanent home on his roster as long as Roberto Luongo remains with the team.

Any time Cory Schneider has a less-than-stellar game, the debate will get louder. Is Schneider really a No. 1 goalie? Can the Canucks win consistently with him in the net? Should they go back to Luongo?

Schneider had an average game in the opener. The Canucks dropped a 7-3 decision at home to the Anaheim Ducks in their opening game. Schneider gave up five goals while facing 14 shots, and Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault looked sick to his stomach as he watched the action unfold.

He replaced Schneider with Luongo less than seven minutes into the second period. Luongo gave up a pair of goals on 12 shots to ageless Teemu Selanne while he was in the net.

While the Canucks and their No. 1 goalie did not have a good game against the Ducks, it is not the end of the world.

When you replace an All-Star with a less established player, there will be a controversy. When the rising player has a bad game, people will ask questions. 

But the key is how Schneider responds from this point forward. Nobody expects him to be perfect every night, but he needs to follow up a poor game with four or five good ones in a row. If he does not, the controversy will grow.

There are circumstances that could make the situation worse. Luongo certainly brought the demotion on himself with his uneven performances in big games over the years. Luongo has never denied that he gave the Canucks reason to give this move strong consideration.

Luongo has handled his demotion well. He is not emotional about it, and he does not blame anyone else or claim unfair treatment.

If he is unhappy, he is keeping his feelings to himself and behaving with maturity. He also supports Schneider publicly.

"The kid's got a tremendous amount of talent," Luongo told after the game. "I mean, I'm not worried about him at all. He's so strong mentally that he's going to have no problem bouncing back whatsoever. He'll be ready to play whenever the next game is for him."

Schneider could not ask for more support than he is receiving from Luongo. Still, there is little doubt that both he and the Canucks would be better off if Gillis could make the trade that has been discussed since last year's playoffs.

Gillis said last week that he was not going to rush into an unfavorable deal (source:

He also has to realize that it will be difficult for his team to move forward until Luongo is finally traded.