Are the Canucks making a bad gamble by tweaking Roberto Luongo's style?

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luongodeep.jpgIt’s one thing to tweak the way a hitter swings a baseball bat or to ask a basketball player to stop chucking ill-advised three-point shots, but it’s a whole other beast to ask someone to fundamentally change the way they function when they’ve operated that way up to the professional level. Just look at when an NFL team tries to change a quarterback’s throwing motion; you can justify the concept, but there’s a fine line between coaching a player and trying to impose an unnatural change.

Most of the time, sporting leopards cannot change their spots.

This is an elaborate way of saying that I’m a little skeptical about the wisdom in Vancouver Canucks’ goalie coach Rollie Melanson (great name, by the way) asking Roberto Luongo to adjust his goaltending style by staying deeper in his crease instead of challenging shooters. Let’s look at what Luongo said about the alterations in The Province.

On Wednesday, Luongo unveiled the first of the tweaks to his game initiated since working with new goalie coach Rollie Melanson. And it was not insignificant. For years, Luongo has thrived by being out and in front of his crease to both challenge and intimidate.

Melanson, whose star student is Jaroslav Halak, wants to see Luongo deeper in his crease; to play in the blue specifically during half-court play.

It would allow Luongo a better chance to position himself for back door plays and second chances without having to lunge as often as he did during last season’s playoffs. Meticulous about routine, Luongo has opened himself up to the idea.

“The adjustments have to make sense to me for me to do it and they do,” Luongo said.

“It’s going to be a process to get used to some of those things but I’m willing to learn, I’m willing to give it a shot. Hopefully it will improve my game.

“Anything to make my game better, I’m willing to try it. I probably have three more games this preseason to work on the process.”

timtebow.jpgIt’s great that Luongo is willing to part with some of the techniques that helped him earn a huge lifetime contract and plenty of league-wide acclaim after his confidence was shaken this season. I’m also willing to admit that I am far from an expert on goalies; perhaps this isn’t as drastic as a change as it sounds like.

My instinct is to say that this might be a shaky process, though. Luongo’s future isn’t Tim Tebow-murky, but I’d say it would be better if the Canucks let him be who he is. Then again, Melanson and the Canucks are paid to make these kinds of bold decisions. We’ll just have to wait and see which school of thought makes more sense this season, then.

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.