It’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.”
It’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.