It was hardly surprising that not much came out of the Vancouver Canucks’ season-ending press conference yesterday at GM Place, but it was very interesting to hear Alain Vigneault admit he may have mishandled Roberto Luongo down the stretch.
Vigneault confessed that he “underestimated (Luongo’s) mental situation” and “if I could do it again, I would probably handle it differently” when it came to how much he played his number one netminder. That said, Vigneault also asked the obvious rhetorical question “How do I not play my best player?” when every game was crucial to the Canucks’ chances of making the playoffs. The only way he would have not been skewered for the decision was if Curtis Sanford was able to backstop the team to a win had Luongo been given a night off.
As for the speculation that Luongo might want out of this market, both Vigneault and Dave Nonis asserted that “He wants to win; he wants to win here.” Given the nature of Vancouver hockey fans, much doubt will linger until Luongo himself makes a similar statement.
• The answers most fans are looking for won’t be answered for at least a few days, as Francesco Aquilini is currently overseas. He and his brothers must decide whether or not Nonis will return to reshape the squad as the Canucks’ GM. Supporters of Nonis believe he proved he can make a big deal when he acquired Luongo, and that with considerable salary cap room, he will have a far different team in place by next season.
Critics point to the Canucks’ exclusion from the postseason in two of the last three years, and Nonis’ inability to augment this year’s team even though he knew what holes existed on the roster. Upon learning Nonis’ fate, fans will then want to know if Vigneault will be back to coach what is hoped to be a more potent group of forwards next season.
Some believe Vigneault is a one-trick pony as far as his commitment to defence goes while others opine that a Vigneault-led team would play a more pleasing style if the personnel were more offensively inclined. Though many will offer their two cents on the situation, it really only matters what the men forking over multi-millions have to say.
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