Even though he’s been retired from professional hockey for three years, Roberto Luongo can’t stop losing his job to Cory Schneider.
Luongo is heading into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November alongside two of his former Vancouver Canucks teammates, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, as well as Daniel Alfredsson, Riikka Sallinen, and Herb Carnegie.
Part of the weekend’s festivities to celebrate their induction will be the HHOF Legends Classic — a friendly hockey game featuring the inductees or their representatives playing with other Hall of Fame players, former NHL greats, and longtime friends.
The roster of players for the Legends Classic has been announced and, in an absolutely stunning turn of events, Cory Schneider has stolen the starting job in net from Roberto Luongo.
Schneider infamously stole Luongo's job as the number one goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks during the 2012-13 season, starting 30 games to Luongo's 20. Now he's coming after Luongo even in retirement.
The two goaltenders for the Legends Classic will be Schneider and Brian Boucher. At the celebration of his own induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Luongo will be forced to play defence, a position he has never played before. This is, my friends, an outrage.
Okay, okay, it's totally fine
In reality, of course, Luongo is likely not playing in net because of the strain on his body. The last few seasons of Luongo’s career were pockmarked by injuries — he had hip surgery and had to put in long hours just to get ready for practices and games.
“I love the game so much, but the commitment I required to prepare, to keep my body ready, has become overwhelming,” said Luongo when he retired. “Since I had my hip surgery a couple of years ago, I’ve been showing up two hours before every practice and three hours before every game to work out my hip.
“Even at night, whether it was the night before a game or even a night off, there I was rolling out, doing strengthening exercises. My entire life revolved around recovery, strengthening, and making sure I was ready to go the next day.”
Putting in that kind of effort when you’re playing in the NHL is one thing — doing that for a fun game of pond hockey is another thing entirely. Besides, Luongo might risk further injury by putting on the pads again.
So, it’s probably for the best that Luongo plays defence instead. Hopefully, he’s worked on his shot a bit since 2013.
It’s fitting that Schneider takes Luongo’s spot in net. Schneider faced injury troubles of his own in his career, but was back to being healthy last season, playing 30 games in the AHL and one in the NHL. He hasn’t officially retired yet and is still ready to play.
More than that, Schneider and Luongo are long-time friends. Who can forget when they poked fun at their own rivalry in Vancouver on a TSN segment with James Duthie?
Luongo isn’t the only goaltender that hung up the pads for good when he retired. When Kirk McLean plays with the Canucks Alumni, he also plays on defence.
Morrison, Hamhuis, Bieksa, Jovanovski, and McCabe
The rest of the roster, headed up by team captains Eric Lindros and Mats Sundin, features several other former Canucks. Brendan Morrison might get the chance to skate on the wing with the Sedins, while Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa might reunite as a defence pair, assuming Luongo doesn’t snag one of them to play as his partner.
The defence also features Ed Jovanovski, who played on the Canucks with the Sedins, but he also just barely played with Luongo. Their Canucks careers do not overlap — ironically, when the Canucks traded for Luongo, that didn’t leave enough room on the salary cap to re-sign Jovanovski.
They did play together on Team Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2005 World Hockey Championship. And, when Luongo was traded back to the Florida Panthers during the 2013-14 season, Jovanovski was the Panthers’ captain, so they finished off that season together.
Another former Canuck on defence is Bryan McCabe, who never played with either the Sedins or Luongo, but was instrumental in the Sedins coming to Vancouver and is a footnote in Luongo coming to Vancouver too, so his inclusion on the Legends Classic roster is a treat.
McCabe was one of the key pieces of the Trevor Linden trade to the New York Islanders in 1998. When Canucks general manager Brian Burke took aim at drafting both Daniel and Henrik Sedin in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, McCabe was his major trade chip for acquiring the fourth-overall pick from the Chicago Blackhawks, giving the Canucks both the third and fourth picks. Further trades turned that into second and third-overall, allowing the Canucks to draft the Sedin Twins.
Without McCabe, Burke might not have been able to pull off the series of deals that brought the Sedins to Vancouver together.
Todd Bertuzzi, the other major piece of the Linden trade alongside McCabe, was the main piece of the trade to the Panthers that brought back Luongo to the Canucks. Sure, McCabe wasn’t directly involved in that deal, but he’s still hanging out in the background.
The Legends Classic will take place on November 13 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.