Are Roberto Luongo's days in a Vancouver Canucks uniform numbered?
Whenever the off-season arrives for the Canucks, they'll find themselves in a situation no one could have predicted three years ago.
In 2009, the Canucks signed goaltender Roberto Luongo to a 12-year, $64-million contract extension, essentially pegging him as the team's starter until he was ready to retire.
He was fresh off a season in which he was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award and Hart Memorial Trophy, and he was the team's captain. Signing him long term seemed like a no-brainer.
What they did not foresee was the emergence of their 2004 first round draft pick, Cory Schneider. At that point, the 23-year old goaltender had appeared in a total of eight NHL games. He had recorded two wins, a GAA of 3.38 and a save percentage of .877.
In Vancouver's 2011 playoff run, Luongo took his team to within one game of winning the Stanley Cup. Before Game 6 against the Bruins, many picked him to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP if the Canucks had closed the deal.
This year, after the Canucks lost Games 1 and 2 of their first round series against the L.A. Kings, Luongo was seen as one of the team's best performers in those games. Yet "back-up" Schneider was given the Game 3 start. He lost that game by a score of 1-0.
With Vancouver's back up against the proverbial wall for Game 4, coach Alain Vigneault went back to Schneider, sending a clear message that he saw the understudy as his best chance to extend the series.
And it worked.
Luongo, who only three years ago was signed to be the Canucks starter for 12 years, has lost his claim to that title just two seasons after the contract took effect.
With Schneider slated to become a restricted free agent this summer, the Canucks will have the right to match any offer sheet placed in front of him, and they'll likely re-sign him.
So are Luongo's days in Vancouver numbered?
As always, it's Your! Call.