Roberto Luongo won't remain captain
Yet, he relinquished the title on Monday.
The star goalie anguished over a process that started shortly after the Canucks were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs for a second straight year by the Chicago Blackhawks. He consulted with family, friends and teammates throughout the summer and didn't make his final decision until Sunday.
"I was fighting with the idea the whole way because I loved being captain," Luongo said Monday. "I enjoyed the experience. It was fun. I took a lot of pride in it, and that was one of the main reasons it was tough for me to come to this decision."
In 2008, Luongo became the first NHL goalie in 60 years to be named captain, but NHL rules prohibited him from wearing the "C" on his jersey or acting as captain on the ice.
Instead, Luongo painted a "C" on the chin portion of his mask, and the Canucks designated three alternate captains -- instead of the usual two alternates and a captain -- to take ceremonial faceoffs before games and talk to officials during them.
"Even though we obviously weren't able to bring a Cup home, we won the division both years, we were able to advance to the second round, the final eight teams in the NHL, so I would call it a success," Luongo said. "I'm not going to say I regretted being the captain. I didn't at all."
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said the team expects to choose a new captain before the regular season begins next month.
Gillis said it is possible the selection process will stretch into the season and downplayed reports that Henrik Sedin, last season's NHL MVP, was in line to take the job.
"No one is a shoo-in, Gillis said. "We're going to take our time."
Gillis said the captaincy and the goaltending position may be "incompatible," but he still views Luongo as a big part of the Canucks' leadership group.
"He was the leader of this team and he will remain the leader of this team," Gillis said.
Luongo said after the season that extra media demands that came with the captaincy might have become too big of a distraction. He uncharacteristically stopped talking to reporters following game-day skates during the second round of the playoffs.
A bigger issue was the perception that anytime he criticized the team's defensive play as the captain, he was blaming teammates as the goalie.
"It was a very precarious position to be in," the 30-year-old Luongo said. "As a goaltender you have a lot of jobs to do on the ice as far as a focusing for 60 minutes, and you don't want to have other stuff creeping inside your head and maybe causing a little bit of distraction."
Luongo's .913 save percentage last season was his worst since 1999-2000, his rookie season with the New York Islanders.
Luongo was the first goalie to serve as a team captain since Bill Durnan of the Montreal Canadiens did it during the 1947-48 season. Rules forbidding goalies from being captain were passed before the next season after protests that Durnan was leaving his crease to protest calls as a way to effectively create extra timeouts.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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