Roberto Luongo

Canucks coach on sitting Luongo, starting Schneider: “It’s a no-brainer”


Despite declaring himself ready to play, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo won’t be in net tonight when Vancouver plays Phoenix. Instead, backup Cory Schneider will get his fourth-consecutive start — a decision deemed “a no-brainer” by assistant coach Rick Bowness.

“There are times when you really don’t have to work your brain too hard to make that decision,” Bowness told the Vancouver Sun. “[Schneider] is coming off a 2-1 win and then pitches a shutout. It’s a no-brainer. He’s playing great and he deserves to be right back in there and he is.”

PHT’s covered the Luongo-Schneider situation extensively (which has nothing to do its two newest writers being from Vancouver), and our very own Jason Brough wrote this prior to Vancouver’s 3-0 win over Colorado on Wednesday:

So…what happens if Schneider is brilliant again tonight? The 25-year-old has the superior stats (2.52 GAA, .912 SV%) compared to Luongo (2.97 GAA, .896 SV%). If Vigneault’s “the best players will play” mantra is sincere – and based on his willingness to make big-money defenseman Keith Ballard a healthy scratch, it’s hard to say it’s not – how will he approach his goaltending situation going forward? Does he ride the hot hand while Luongo wears the ball cap on the bench?

Schneider was brilliant against the Avs (stopping all 24 shots for his first shutout of the year), and Vigneault approached his goaltending situation the way many have clamored for. He’s riding Schneider’s hot hand and making Luongo wear the ball cap.

The big question now is what Luongo and his 12-year, $64-million deal think about all this. Upon learning he wouldn’t play against Colorado (after announcing he was healthy) Luongo temporarily halted goalie controversy talk by saying, “we have the luxury of two good goalies here, Schneids is giving me a couple extra practices here to make sure my timing is back.”

But Luongo added he was practicing under the assumption he’d be back in goal Friday against the Coyotes.

Now it’s Friday, and Luongo is back on the pine.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.