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Why the Canucks made the right call by not retiring Roberto Luongo’s jersey

This take will likely enrage a good chunk of the fanbase.

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks - Game Two
Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks eyes the deflected puck during the game against the Los Angeles Kings in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April, 13, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Kings won 4-2.
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Many Canucks fans and media alike have been outraged at the decision to not retire Roberto Luongo’s number. They have expressed their displeasure boisterously on social media as well as written and audio platforms.

I am here to tell you that although their adoration and passion for Luongo is admirable, they are dead wrong.

A jersey retirement at its core is a symbolic exercise of recognizing the highest levels of excellence.

Roberto Luongo’s tenure with the Canucks would not qualify as the highest level of excellence.

Perhaps that was true in the regular season, but playoff performances do matter.

For as good a goalie Luongo was during the regular season, there were far too many questionable moments in the postseason. 06-07 was Luongo’s best year as a Canucks. Even that year ended with Roberto complaining to the refs about a missed penalty while also allowing a goal. There were the playoff meltdowns in all 09, 10, 11 vs Chicago.

I remember Game 6 during 2009 in particular. The game was a high-paced affair that ended with the Canucks losing 7-5. Luongo would allow four goals in a span of 11 minutes during the third period that cost the Canucks the game — and the series. He went on to finish that series with a .879 save percentage.

That Canucks team during the Sundin season in 2009 had a strong shot at winning the Stanley Cup due to their forward depth. However, that didn’t come to be due to questionable goaltending.

There was also the 3 away games vs Boston in 2011 where Luongo did nothing. Yes, he carried the team at home but he was equally as disastrous on the road.

Luongo wasn’t always adored in Vancouver

There is also the relationship between Luongo and the fans. By any objective measure, Roberto Luongo will go down as one of the most polarizing sports figures ever in Vancouver.

This is partially on the fans because he seemed to get all the blame for the playoff failures while others weren’t held accountable. However, Roberto played his part early on by being much more testy and aggressive.

There was the unilateral demand for a trade three years into signing a 12-year deal. There was also comments at a press conference where Roberto stated his $64,000,000 contract “sucked”.

Those comments came across as privileged and whiny to many.

I appreciate that the relationship got better over time as Roberto opened up himself on social.

I will also note that as someone who has been on Canucks Twitter since its earliest form, I recognize that he played a massive part on that space during its formative years. He interacted with fans on early Canucks Twitter and became close with an entertaining group of Canucks Twitter users who called themselves the “shap crew”.

Perhaps, that’s why so many Canucks Twitter users are outraged at the decision. However, in its totality, the relationship between Luongo and the fans was much rockier than most like to remember.

Are the Canucks’ standards for jersey retirement too low?

Aside from Roberto the player, there is also this organization's liberal standard of putting a jersey in the rafters. As a former university student, I am all for easy grading curves but the fact of the matter is that the Canucks have retired far too many numbers already. There aren’t six players who have accomplished the highest level of excellence for an organization with a history of abject failure and 0 Stanley Cups.

You would be hard-pressed to find a knowledgeable hockey observer who would characterize Markus Naslund and Stan Smyl’s tenures as the highest levels of excellence. Yes, the standard has been lowered by Naslund and Smyl. However, that isn’t a good enough justification to now retire Luongo.

You can reform and reshape standards. What was good enough once upon a time doesn’t need to be good enough now.

Roberto Luongo will go down as one of the greatest regular-season goaltenders of his era. For that, he will have his jersey retired by the team he played the majority of his career for.

It just won’t be with Vancouver, and that should be completely fine.