The first goaltender to serve as an NHL captain in 60 years has surrendered his captaincy to concentrate on his game and help the Canucks win.

“I had a tough time deciding,” said Roberto Luongo yesterday. “I love being captain and I enjoyed the experience.”

Luongo said he made the decision Sunday night and informed general manager Mike Gillis by phone.

“My focus is going to be on playing my game and helping my teammates. I’m still going to be a leader.”

Gillis, in Penticton for a rookie tournament, said Luongo’s decision to put the team first is a testament to the leadership that made him the obvious choice for captain two years ago.

“I know he loved being ‘the guy,’ the captain of this team,” Gillis said. “But he felt that in order to be the best prepared to play and to win, it was in the team’s best interest that we go this route.”

Gillis said the team is in no rush to name a new captain and will wait for players “to step forward” into that role over the next three weeks of training camp and pre-season play.

Luongo said there were a handful of players on the team’s roster that could fill the role of captain.

There will not be a rotating C, Gillis added. If a captain is not chosen by the start of the season, the Canucks will proceed with a trio of alternates.