Goaltender Roberto Luongo, who was traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, exits Vancouver as the Canucks' franchise leader in both goalie wins (233) and shutouts (35). He ranks second in franchise history in goals-against-average (2.36) and save percentage (.919), trailing Cory Schneider (2.20 GAA, .927 SV%) in both categories.
Schneider is now with the New Jersey Devils and has finally escaped Luongo's shadow, after spending the first five years of his career with the Canucks alongside the man known as Bobby Lu.
Vancouver made the playoffs in all five of those seasons but it was hardly a harmonious period in franchise history, as Luongo seemingly failed his team when it mattered most every year, suffering through some notable postseason collapses that obscured his fine work in both the regular season and early rounds of the playoffs.
Schneider emerged as one of the league's best backup netminders in 2010-11, the same season that saw Luongo suffer his most memorable postseason collapse. Lu led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals that year, but he was pulled in favor of Schneider during a Game 6 loss to the Boston Bruins after allowing three goals in the first three minutes. Coach Alain Vigneault controversially went back to Luongo for Game 7, only to watch his top netminder surrender three goals on 20 shots in an ugly 4-0 loss that gave Boston the Stanley Cup.
Following the Stanley Cup Finals failure, Luongo was a constant subject of trade rumors for the next few years, and he eventually lost the No. 1 goaltender job to Schneider before the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. Schneider thrived in his new role but was surprisingly dealt to New Jersey in the offseason, while Luongo surprisingly remained with the Canucks.
If the Schneider deal marked a transition for Vancouver, the Luongo trade can be considered the end of an era. After years of drama surrounding the pair of veteran netminders, the Canucks will now have a couple of youngsters—26-year-old Eddie Lack and 24-year-old Jacob Markstrom—vying for playing time in goal.
Vancouver is just two points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the first seven slots appear to be accounted for, and three other teams—the Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets—are in the mix for the eighth and final spot. With the Stars having two points on the Canucks with two fewer games played, Vancouver seems unlikely to crash the postseason party.
Recognizing this reality, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was wise to deal the beleaguered Luongo for Markstrom, who was viewed as a top goalie prospect before he struggled badly behind an atrocious Panthers team this season.
The 34-year-old Luongo probably isn't thrilled to join a rebuilding team, but he'll at least have a sense of familiarity, having played for the Panthers from 2000-01 to 2005-06. To this day, he's the hapless franchise's all-time leader in goalie games (317), wins (108) and shutouts (26).