Since the bitter and disappointing end to last season, which saw Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks miss the playoffs for the second time in three years, the Canucks’ all-star netminder has gone through a lot of changes. With his wife and daughter now in Vancouver with him, gone are the days of traveling east and worrying about how his family is doing without him.
“You prepare the same way, but it’s nice to have your family with you,” he told TSN’s Farhan Lalji after skating at 8-Rinks, the Canucks’ facility in Burnaby.
With a new family has also come a new look for the native of Montreal, Quebec. Luongo – when it comes to his looks – has been well known for his long and curly hair, but this year that has also changed.
“She was pulling on my hair all the time – my baby, not my wife,” he continued according to Lalji.
While having his family with him throughout the season and being a bit lighter on his feet due to his lack of hair, there is one more change that Luongo has instituted for the upcoming season that may directly have an impact on the Canucks’ chances to win: his new goalie pads.
Throughout the two years that the former Florida Panthers’ goaltender has been with the Canucks, he has seen the team go through a handful of team sweaters and in accordance, he has had at least three sets of goalie pads. There was the dark blue and grays in the first year along with a set for the alternate vintage sweater and then a set for last season’s new uniforms.
But this year, Luongo’s choice of color may have more to do with the on-ice result rather than his attempt at mimicking the latest fall fashions. Luongo has entered training camp with white pads, a stark changed from his colorful pads of the past. And although the white does please the eye in combination with the Canucks’ uniforms, there may be an underlying, more important, reason why Bobby Lu and other NHL goaltenders are making the switch.
Last season, an Ottawa optometrist Janet Leduc contacted the Pittsburgh Penguins – including owner Mario Lemieux – with a study that demonstrated that March-Andre Fleury’s bright yellow pads may have been a detriment to his ability to save the puck.
The study presented by Leduc stated that the human eye recognizes different colors at different speeds in conditions with bright lights. Leduc pointed out – through a graph of reaction times – that the color yellow is the easiest for the human eye to detect and thus players looking to quickly take a shot on Fleury would easily and quickly be able to decipher between his pads and the net behind him. So Fleury changed his pads to white, and had a career second half after returning from injury and led his Penguins to the Stanley Cups final.
By Luongo’s standards and in comparison to his first year as a Canuck, last season was below average. Many factors in addition to his personal life could be attributed to his sub-par play last season, however one that many not have been considered was his bright blue pads.
With the change of his equipment, a clean cut new hairdo, and an apparent more calm and relaxed demeanor, Luongo says that he is ready to focus on winning.
“My goal is simple – to win a Stanley Cup and that’s the only reason I play hockey,” Luongo said to reporters at 8-Rinks.
And with a fresh new look, Luongo and his leg pads may bring a new reason white “towel power” is a staple in Vancouver during the playoffs.