Canucks may need both Luongo and Schneider for compressed schedule

After the NHL faced the PR disaster of their market research focus group documents going public on Monday, they needed to do something quick to fix their image among hockey fans. The announcement of a new, seemingly reasonable CBA proposal with the aim of saving full 82-game season? That ought to do it.

While there is still a lot of work to be done in negotiations and time will tell how truly reasonable the offer is, the fact remains that this is the first real glimmer of hope that a deal could get done in time to save the 2012-13 season. The key for the owners, however, is that this offer is contingent on a deal being reached within the next 9-10 days, as they want a full 82-game season and all the revenue that entails.

In order to cram all those games in, the NHL schedule would need to get a lot more compressed, meaning more back-to-back games, more fatigue, and more risk of injuries.

Which means Mike Gillis might not want to trade Roberto Luongo after all.

Gillis has been clear all along that he is comfortable starting the season with both Luongo and Cory Schneider on the roster. This has generally been interpreted as a tactic to keep Luongo’s trade value high, so as to not appear to be bargaining from a position of weakness. I’ve talked to some fans, however, who see it in the Canucks’ best interests to keep both Luongo and Schneider as long as possible, as the two are easily the best goaltending tandem in the league.

With a compressed schedule, having two solid goaltenders is particularly important. Fatigue and injuries are already hard on number one goaltenders who play a lot of games. With a compressed schedule, those risks are heightened. If a deal is reached and a full 82-game season is played, teams without a capable backup goaltender might be in trouble.

At the moment, the Canucks don’t have that problem. Luongo is already a proven number one goaltender and Schneider has given the Canucks every confidence that he can also perform at that level. Keeping Luongo would allow the Canucks to rotate the two goaltenders, keeping them fresh even with more games in fewer nights.

Gary Bettman claimed that the compressed schedule would mean just “one additional game every five weeks,” but that math just doesn’t add up. The aim is to start the season by November 2nd. For the Canucks, that would mean 11 regular season games missed that would need to be worked into their schedule. If just one game was added every five weeks, the seasons would need to be 55 weeks – over a year! – long. The season normally ends in mid-April, which is just 23 weeks after November 2nd. Even allowing for a few more weeks by pushing the playoffs further into the summer, that is still one extra game every two-and-a-half weeks.

That may not seem like much, but with the Canucks already employing sleep doctors and using carefully planned travel plans to mitigate the difficulties of a normal schedule, those extra games will be tough on the players, particularly goaltenders.

It just might make sense to keep Luongo for one more season.

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9 comments

  1. BakerGeorgeT
    October 17, 2012

    I think that would be a mistake. Consider what Luongo has already said publicly about moving on. He no longer wants to be here. Yes he could be a professional and suck it up, but I believe he has already mentally moved on, and as we’ve seen in Vancouver, when Luongo moves mentally away from the Vancouver net, disaster ensues.

    I think it’s best to move and either give lack a chance to back up or find a suitable gate-opener.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 17, 2012

      I think it’s a mistake to read too much into Luongo’s off-season comments. He basically just tried to say all the right things that would make it easy for Gillis to move him. If it turns out that he doesn’t get traded, he’ll say all the right things about staying.

      And I like Lack a great deal, but he’s not ready for the NHL yet, even as a backup. I’m not all that comfortable with Schneider as the sole number one yet, either. He’s still unproven in that role. I’d feel a lot more comfortable with Luongo in place as a 1B to transition Schneider into that number one role.

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      • Dani
        October 17, 2012

        Having watched 90% of the Wolves games last year, I definitely agree that Läck, while showing great potential, is definitely not ready for the NHL yet. Unfortunately, no one wants to hear that and say “Oh, he’s totally ready” without ever seeing him play.

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  2. Nee
    October 17, 2012

    I don’t think this will happen. Gillis and Luongo have said all the right things about this potential trade, about how they would be comfortable with whatever scenario, how Luongo could stay, but I think the reality is different.

    When it comes down to it Gillis will trade Luongo for the best offer he can get (which might not be much). And Luongo wants to move on…he made that clear, in a nice way, when he was interviewed by a Vancouver radio station in August.

    If you think about this abstractly, yes keeping Lu might make sense, but I don’t think it will happen. The most I can see happening is Lu staying until the trade deadline, but I imagine he will actually be gone before the season finally starts, or soon after.

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  3. jim
    October 17, 2012

    I agree that the math doesn’t add up, but I believe the NHL indicated that they’d be looking for the SCF to be finished before the end of June, meaning we could have a regular season that reaches into May. If this is the case, this is where the bulk of the ‘missing’ games would be played,

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 17, 2012

      Again, that’s just 2-3 extra weeks. That’s not a lot of time to get 11 games in.

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      • Dane
        October 17, 2012

        2-3 extra weeks to play 6-8 games and the remainder spread throughout the rest of the season, I presume.

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  4. Timmy Wong
    October 17, 2012

    To force Schneider into a compressed schedule scenario is very risky – we still don’t know how well he can play under stress of schedule. Yes, we know he’s witty and can handle media scrutiny, but actual playing time is another.

    As much as I’d like to see valuable assets come back in place of Luongo, the goalie tandem is what this team needs in a position that has historically been a weak point.

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  5. Gimmic
    October 21, 2012

    Great write up, I’ve been saying this all along.

    A compressed schedule for a team who travels more than anyone else – is scary. It’s scary cause this team is always in the top 10 w/ man games lost to injury ever yr. As we speak, the Canucks would already be without Kesler, Garrison and Edler. They haven’t even started the season yet….ekkk! Injuries succkkkkk.

    As I was saying, a compressed schedule for this team isn’t favorable. It’s not favorable for injuries. And it’s certainly not favorable for a goalie who hasn’t played more than 6 straight NHL games, or more than 33 NHL reg season games. They need Luongo and Schneider to share some games in this compressed schedule, Without that option, I think they’re less likely to have long term success this yr. To me it means no Stanley Cup.

    I really hope the keep Luongo this yr. Gillis, you listening man?

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