So you've started putting together your ideal Team Canada roster for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. It's hard to resist; the incomparable pool of talent that Canada has to draw from lends itself to endless hours of debate.
I see you've taken Crosby (obviously), Toews (nice choice), Stamkos (imagine Sid feeding him!), Doughty and Weber anchoring the blueline (tough to argue there), and in goal...
Oh no. No! What have you done? How could you possibly soil something so pure? You got PAID to put this together? And they didn't immediately ask for your press pass?
Listen, there's no need to sugarcoat this: if Roberto Luongo isn't on your 2014 Team Canada Olympic roster, you are an idiot. You're as bad as the guy I overheard on the bus after a Canada loss in the 2010 Olympics who said to his presumably just-as-dim-witted friend on the other end of the phone, "Who the hell is our couch? I've never even heard of him! What was wrong with Gretzky? If it ain't broke don't fix it!"
Not including the defending gold medal goalie on your roster makes about as much sense as...whatever that was.
And if you have Carey Price on your roster and not Luongo? Well, you're half right, but you're still half dumb. Even a year out, it's obvious to anyone with a brain that Price and Luongo will duel it out for the starter's job in Sochi. The third goalie might as well be John Garrett for all it will matter, but let's give it to Martin Brodeur since it's his last Olympics.
Maybe you just aren't a fan of Luongo and buy in to the narrative that he's a "choke artist", despite him putting up consistently elite numbers year after year? If that's the case, who are you going to take in his stead? "How about Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward!" you will probably say, idiotically. Well, that was 7 years ago, and he's been nothing but average since, but that's not the point right? I mean, he's won a CUP! While we're at it, Cory Stillman was great in that run by the Hurricanes, too. Do you think he should be invited to camp?
"Alright, how about Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury!" Well, that was 4 years ago, and he's been nothing but average since, but that's not the point right? It's not as if the Penguins have the two best players of this generation on their roster. Marc-Andre is CLUTCH!
Mike Smith? Corey Crawford? Devan Dubnyk? All perfectly fine options for occupying the press box as the third stringer, but they're not who you want to rely on in a two week tournament against the world's best with an entire nation watching.
There's only one Canadian goalie alive and in his prime who has proven he can handle that pressure.
The truth is, goaltenders get too much of the credit when their teams win, and way too much of the blame when their teams lose. Taking Cam Ward or Marc-Andre Fleury because they've won the Stanley Cup is as misguided as not taking Roberto Luongo because he hasn't. Any goaltender can get hot for a stretch, but the fact is that few of them possess a complete body of work that's comparable to Luongo's, which is why at this time next year he will be wearing the red and white in Sochi.
After all, Steve Yzerman, the man in charge of this whole operation, is not an idiot.