Canucks GM Mike Gillis to talk with Roberto Luongo about captaincy today

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for grinningluongo.jpgIf you’re a Canucks fan that’s been sitting on the edge of your seat hoping to find some news about whether or not Roberto Luongo will be the team’s captain again next season, first of all, relax. Secondly, we’ve got an update for you. 

Canucks GM Mike Gillis is finding his hands full of drama and training camp hasn’t even begun in earnest. First he’s dealing with the injury situation surrounding the team’s top prospect Cody Hodgson and now he’ll be sitting down for a pow-wow with Luongo to discuss the team’s captaincy.

“I think that the expectations that go with that position, with that title, in a Canadian city can be a distraction,” Gillis admitted. “I will discuss that with him (Monday), and I will find out whether he feels the same way, and get his thoughts on the process.”

Apart from the fact the captain of an NHL team is expected to speak to the media at nearly every practice, morning skate and after every game — a serious task with the growing media horde surrounding these Canucks — the bigger problem came in the playoffs when the Canucks’ play lacked, particularly in the shot-blocking department.

It is at times like that when the captain needs to step up and publicly state where the team needs to improve. But when a goalie chastises his team in the media for failing to block enough shots, it comes across as the goalie pointing the finger at teammates.

It’s a good bet the captaincy goes to Henrik Sedin when the season starts in October.

“I know (Luongo) desperately wants to win a Stanley Cup, and he’s going to do everything in his power to do that. If he feels it’s a distraction or hinders his play in any way I’m sure he’ll make the best decision for the team first and for him second,” Gillis said.

Given how much talk there is about whether or not Luongo should even be the team captain should be indicative of how much of an issue this is to everyone concerned with the team. The fact that this is such a public discussion shows that the Canucks might need training camp to start sooner than most teams to escape such crazy talk.

Perhaps I’m a bit too old school when it comes to matters of team captaincy, but apparently we’re past the days when the guys on the ice would elect a team captain. I realize that being an NHL captain calls for more demands for your time off the ice as well as responsibilities on it. That said, goaltending is a position that demands mental focus at all times and having your goalie have to face the media after each game and handle the community tie-ins as well seems like more of a burden for a player shoulder than necessary.

Moving the “C” to Henrik Sedin or Ryan Kesler would likely be more of a benefit to the Canucks than they realize. Once they weather the initial storm of taking it from Luongo, they’ll be better off for it.

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    Kyle Connor expected to be healthy scratch for Jets

    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets  during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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    Jets rookie Kyle Connor played just 10:09 in Sunday’s outdoor loss to the Oilers, and tonight in Dallas it appears he’ll be a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career.

    Connor was not among the 12 Winnipeg forwards taking line rushes this morning. The 19-year-old has just one assist in his first five games as a Jet. He’s a minus-5 and has also struggled in terms of possession, as evidenced by his 38 percent Corsi.

    The 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Connor spent one year at the University of Michigan before leaving school to turn pro. He’s eligible to be sent to the AHL this season, something the Jets are no doubt considering.

    Winnipeg has a number of potential call-ups on its farm club, including Marko Dano, Quinton Howden, Andrew Copp, Nicolas Petan, and Jack Roslovic.

    Babcock’s had his fill of goalie questions, thanks

    SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  Head coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on prior to the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Mike Babcock is aware Toronto’s goaltending hasn’t been good this season.

    He’s also aware that Toronto’s goaltending hasn’t been good the last few seasons.

    Thing is, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

    “It’s five games in, isn’t it?” Babcock replied on Tuesday, when asked about the Leafs’ shaky netminding so far, specifically the play of Frederik Andersen. “Let’s just take a deep breath here.”

    And here’s a transcript of what followed (courtesy Sportsnet)!

    Reporter: The guy on Saturday night said the Leafs goaltending has been lousy this year.

    Babcock: Who did?

    Reporter: The guy on Saturday night — Don Cherry.

    Babcock: Oh, OK. Well now that I know where I’m getting my facts from, here we go. Come on. Let’s move on. What’s next here? Holy [expletive].

    Reporter: No, but seriously, it’s been an issue for this market probably since Ed Belfour left, and I’m wondering if there’s anything to that.

    Babcock: But I’m not dealing with that. This is what I would tell you. We think we have a really good goaltender. At the World Cup I had three outstanding goaltenders, and they all talked about how much time it usually takes to get ready.

    Our guy didn’t have that opportunity because of his injury. We’re real comfortable with him. Do we think he’s played as good as he’s capable of playing? No. Do we think he’s going to? Yes.

    Babcock’s right to suggest it’s too early to start grading Andersen. First, there’s the adjustment from playing behind a good team in a small market (Anaheim) to playing behind a “growing team” in a massive, pressure-packed market like Toronto.

    There’s also the additional pressure that came with Andersen’s acquisition price (a first- and second-round pick) and his subsequent contract extension (five years, $25 million).

    The injury suffered playing for Denmark in Olympic qualifying was definitely a setback, as there’s no doubt some games for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey would’ve better prepared Andersen for the season.

    Still, it’s hard to look at his numbers — 1-0-3, .879 save percentage, 3.63 GAA — and not be at least a little concerned.

    Unless you’re Mike Babcock, that is.

    Related: The list of struggling netminders is a long one, as it’s been goals galore to start the year

    Elliott gets the start in return to St. Louis

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24: Matt Stajan #18 and Lance Bouma #17 of the Calgary Flames congratulate Brian Elliott #1 after a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Flames defeated the Blachawks 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    Brian Elliott will be in Calgary’s crease against his old team tonight in St. Louis.

    Even though Elliott played last night in Chicago, it was an easy decision for Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan. Elliott had easily his best game of the season against the Blackhawks, stopping 31 of 33 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory. The 31-year-old turned away all seven Chicago shooters in the breakaway competition, helping the Flames to just their second win of the young season.

    “I definitely wanted that one,” Elliott told reporters afterwards. “We haven’t been playing like we wanted to and the guys came out and had a heck of an effort.”

    Elliott started 164 games for the Blues during his five years in St. Louis. Last season, he backstopped them to their first conference final since 2001. He was then traded to Calgary in June, paving the way for Jake Allen to become the full-time starter in St. Louis.

    Related: The list of struggling goalies is a long one

    Crosby on track to make season debut tonight

    NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 30: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waits for a face-off against the 
New Jersey Devils during the third period at the Prudential Center on January 30, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
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    Yesterday, Sidney Crosby participated in a full-contact practice.

    Today, it appears he’ll make his season debut when the Penguins host the Panthers tonight in Pittsburgh.

    “He had a strong practice this morning,” head coach Mike Sullivan said, per the club. “Everything is pointing in the right direction. If he’s comfortable, he could play.”

    Crosby has missed just six games due to the concussion he sustained during practice on Oct. 7. Given his history with concussions, if he plays tonight, it has to be considered a best-case scenario. Certainly, there had been fear he could be out much longer.

    For the record, Crosby told reporters he’ll be a game-time decision.