The Evolution Of Roberto Luongo

NBC Bay Area

Let's be honest here, there probably isn't a blogger, at least a non-Canucks affiliated one, that's gotten more mileage of out Roberto Luongo than I have. The jokes I've gotten to do, the photoshops, the commentary, the laughs, it almost seemingly never ends. He represented all that I found sad and unlikable about Vancouver.

But he's no longer the lead-character, and not even close.

It says something pretty substantial about just how distasteful the Canucks have become that Luongo probably wouldn't be a finalist for lead heel. Watching his own fans turn on him -- 14,000 people at Game 4 at Rogers Arena gave a standing ovation at his yanking -- and listening to the bile that was spewed at him during the Hawks series, one can't help but feel a tinge of sympathy.

Luongo has made his misteps in past years. He complained about refs, flopped for calls (though all goalies do), and occasionally threw his teammates under the bus. But this year?

Luongo hasn't bitten anyone. He hasn't dove to the ice in such ridiculous fashion it makes you want to turn off the sport. He hasn't taunted opposing fans. He didn't criticize teams he had just beaten, and, in fact, won with class. He hasn't taken a cheap shot at anyone. He hasn't run to the press to complain about treatment. He hasn't turtled when facing an actual confrontation. He hasn't picked on those smaller or less prone to physical fights. These are all the sins of his teammates this year.

All Luongo has done is be bad for two games, bounce back and be stellar for the next 14, and then have two bad games when his teammates left him out to dry. He couldn't hold back the tide that the rest of the Canucks shrunk from. He hasn't hid from the media, and taken it all on himself. He hasn't complained about the way his coach has handled him.

What we found funny about Bob was that he seemed to care too much, like the tears after the exits to the Hawks the past two years. It was fun to make light of, but it's the product of a guy who wants it so bad and knows what's important.

When his teammates are running around punching people in the back of the head and laughing in the press about it, is that evidence of the right focus?

That's not to say I'm rooting for Luongo. It's just odd how things can change. If this ends as I hope it does, with a Canuck collapse, both he and Vancouver will probably part ways. I used to think it would be a result of a team and a fanbase cutting ties with a goalie who wasn't worthy of them. Now I wonder if it won't be the other way around.

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