Haggerty: More "weak sauce" from Luongo

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Haggerty: More "weak sauce" from Luongo

BOSTON -- Maybe Roberto Luongo should stop wondering why nobody else ever wants to pump his perpetually saggy tires?

The Vancouver Canucks goaltender has once again created a firestorm of criticism by simply doing what everybody predicted Bobby Lou would choose in the first place: taking the easy way out.

No matter what the Vancouver coaching staff posited publicly as the reasoning behind it, Luongo opted out of the difficult challenge facing down his demons against the Bruins at TD Garden.

Its the perfect example of Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault revealed on Friday afternoon Luongo wont be playing against a Bruins team he fell flat on his face against during three Stanley Cup Finals games in Boston last June. In each of the three Vancouver road games where the Bruins outscored the Canucks by an aggregate 17-3 margin, it was Luongo that set the leaky tone for his team.

Luongo was pulled from two of those games, couldnt last even 10 minutes in Vancouvers best chance to wrap things up in Game 6 at TD Garden and created one of the tangible turning points in the seven-game series after memorably criticizing Tim Thomas aggressive goaltending style.

He was arguably the biggest reason his Canucks team ultimately lost the Finals, and he was badly outplayed by his Boston counterpart.

Luongo followed up his severe breach of goaltending brotherhood etiquette by posting a .773 save percentage in those three road games in Boston. For a puck-stopper that always seems to have an excuse at the ready when things go haywire it was just another weak sauce showing at a career-defining moment.

In other words it was Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

For a goaltender in Luongo thats never won anything aside from an Olympic gold medal captured in spite of him rather than because of him thanks to Sidney Crosbys heroics Saturday afternoon was the rare opportunity to right something that went so very wrong last year.

Of course a regular season win wouldnt erase Luongo soiling his Canucks diapers in all three road games during the Finals, but it would have shown that perhaps the losing experience inspired the growth of a little backbone for Bobby Lou. It would have been a good sign that perhaps the Canucks had finally learned that sometimes making a stand is more important in the long view than collecting the two points.

Instead Luongo is hiding behind the coachs decision for Vancouver to go with Marblehead native Cory Schneider, and the excuse du jour is that the Marblehead native will be playing in front of family and friends for the first time in five years at TD Garden.

The only problem: Schneider played in two of the Stanley Cup Finals games in Boston when Luongo was unceremoniously yanked after looking like a goaltender on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

So Schneider has played in front of his local family and friends at the Garden after all.
The NHL is also not Peewee hockey where players get in the starting lineup because their favorite aunt from Moose Jaw made the trip to the game, or because the team is back in somebodys home town for the first time.

Its the highest level of hockey where superstars are supposed to face stiff challenges head on, and where the best of the bunch known when its time to man up in those statement situations.

Luongo is an All-Star goaltender, the highest salaried player on the Canucks aside from the Sedin brothers, and a former captain of his hockey club. He also hadnt played since shutting out the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night, so he was well-rested heading into the Hub showdown.

If the Vancouver netminder insisted on meeting the Bs challenge head on Saturday afternoon, he would be in the Canucks lineup with no questions asked. But he chose to take the cowards route and settle for a baseball cap and his trademark hangdog expression on the visitors bench for Saturday afternoon.

Its as simple as that.

I dont think winning tomorrows game is going to change what happened last year, said Luongo. At the end of the day I would have liked to play, but it doesnt change the outcome of the last year.

At the end of the day youd be playing Saturday afternoon if you really wanted to, Bobby Lou.

Could anybody imagine Tim Thomas passing up the challenge to shut down a team that embarrassed him during the prior seasons playoffs? Thomas would be frothing at the mouth to leap into the breach and get another crack at the team that had mastered him on the leagues greatest stage.

But its pretty apparent Bobby Lou is no Tim Thomas. That was abundantly clear when the Bs goaltender collected all of the hardware at the end of the last season and Luongo was taking a long walk on the Vancouver seawall wondering where it all went so horribly wrong.

In a regular season rematch of Stanley Cup Finals teams after Vancouver finished on the losing end last June, Saturday afternoon was a golden chance for Luongo and Co. to put some shine back in a reputation tarnished during the Finals. Instead Luongos unwillingness to seize control of his own fate intertwined with the Bs buzz saw reveals another wishy-washy decision authored by a seemingly rudderless goaltender.

Or as those outside of Vancouver like to say, Its Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.

Bruins will add assistant coach, tap Bradley to run draft board

Bruins will add assistant coach, tap Bradley to run draft board

While the Bruins technically operated, and operated well, short one coach once assistant coach Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien behind the Boston bench, that’s not expected to continue for the upcoming season.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed this week that the B’s will be retaining the current assistant coach group of Joe Sacco, Jay Pandolfo and Bob Essensa to work under Cassidy as full-time head coach, and that they’ll be looking to add one more person to his staff.

“I think our staff did a very good job jumping in and picking up, because we didn’t add to it at the time [of Cassidy’s promotion] when we subtracted from the group. It will stay as is,” said Sweeney. “We will also be looking to add to it to complement that group. Bruce and I have already spoken briefly about it, but we haven’t identified yet and we’ve already received some people that would have some interest. We’ll pursue that accordingly.”

Sacco handled the defensemen and the penalty kill in the final few months of the season, and Pandolfo worked with the forwards in his very first season as an NHL assistant coach following a stint in player development. Essensa, of course, worked with the goaltenders and as the “eye in the sky” from the press box once Pandolfo moved to the bench following the coaching change. So the natural assumption would be that the Bruins would hire another former defenseman to work with the D-men given the backgrounds of Sacco and Pandolfo as forwards.

“We haven’t gotten too far out in front of it. But, Joe Sacco moved from the front of the bench to the D, and did a terrific job [while playing a] big part of the penalty kill all year. Jay [Pandolfo] came down from the press box, worked with the forwards, which he had worked with all year. But now he’s in the heat of the battle. They were terrific. We were a true staff,” said Cassidy. “Goalie Bob [Essensa] became a little bit more of an eye in the sky for us up there. We had Kim [Brandvold], who was our skating coach, helped a lot with the practices, with the pace we were trying to establish. I can’t thank them enough.

“Going forward, we’re going to meet and decide what’s the best fit for us [as an assistant hire]. Obviously those two have a forward background, I have a defense background, so maybe that’s an area we have to look at, what’s the best complement. But we’d be getting ahead of ourselves if I said today that we’re pinpointing an exact thing. We’ve got to look at it and say, ‘OK, who’s the best fit. What makes us the most successful?’ We’ll go from there with the candidates we get.”

The situation automatically leads one to wonder if P-Bruins head coach Kevin Dean would be a possible candidate as a longtime Cassidy assistant at the AHL level, or if Dean wants to continue on his track as a head coach. If not Dean then perhaps Providence Bruins assistant coach and former Bruins D-man Jay Leach might also be a strong candidate after his first season working with the young P-Bruins at the AHL level.

While it’s clear the Bruins still have some discussions before potentially making a move on hiring an NHL assistant for Cassidy’s staff, they have made a determination about their scouting staff. The B’s never replaced the head of amateur scouting position when Keith Gretzky was hired as an assistant general manager with the Edmonton Oilers, and it will instead be Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley that will run Boston’s draft board in June.

“Scotty Bradley has stepped back into that role, which he’s very comfortable doing. He holds the title of Assistant General Manager and he’ll oversee the draft. We’re very comfortable with the people he’s worked with in recent years that have been a big, big part of our recent drafts. Our meetings went well,” said Sweeney. “They were just at the U-18s and had other subsequent meetings, so there will be some banter in the upcoming [scouting] meetings, in terms of where we end up finalizing our list. Scotty will oversee that.”

It’s not exactly foreign territory for Bradley, who previously held the head scouting position with the Black and Gold and played an instrumental role in drafting players like Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. But there’s also some question as to how big a role Gretzky played in drafting the massive wave of talented prospects now pushing their way through Boston’s system, and how much his presence will be missed at NHL Draft weekend moving forward.  

Saturday, April 29: The race for the top pick in NHL Draft

Saturday, April 29: The race for the top pick in NHL Draft

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while tipping my hat to the Celtics after an emotional, impressive showing against the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

*It’s a tight race for the No. 1 overall ranking headed into this summer’s NHL Draft and it also doesn’t necessarily seem like a surefire superstar player right off the bat either.

*The New York Rangers seem to have a little more respect for the “underdog” Ottawa Senators headed into Game 2 of their series.

*Speaking of the Senators, it looks like they may once again have the best player in the series with the dominant Erik Karlsson at the top of his game while presiding over the best-of-seven playoff match.

*The Carolina Hurricanes are rolling the dice that they can sign Scott Darling to be their No. 1 goalie before he gets to unrestricted free agency.

*PHT writer James O’Brien helps break down the method that the Vegas Golden Knights are going to use to build their team, but the bottom line is they don’t want to be boring.

*Milan Lucic is enjoying the ride with the Edmonton Oilers as they’ve taken a 2-0 lead in their series against the Ducks.

*For something completely different: Interesting news about M. Night Shyamalan, who is making a sequel that will tie together two of his hit movies.