An Open Letter To Roberto Luongo
Hi, Roberto. (Do you prefer Bobby? What about Lou?)
Since there's a lot of talk about your willingness to leave the Canucks, I thought I'd reach out to discuss what Columbus has to offer, seeing as we're one of the teams who are likely to be bidding on your services.
Let's start out by saying, wow, you're a pretty damn good goalie. Stats wise, you're #7 on the list of career save percentages since the lockout. You've got a solid GAA, and, hey, gold medal on your shelf, huh? Pretty nice bit of hardware, that.
I think I speak for most Columbus fans when we say that we could really, really get behind a goaltender who doesn't duck in fear when shots start flying, and who gives a reasonable expectation of NOT allowing 4-5 goals a game.
Now, I admit, you might be a little concerned about the fact that we're probably going to be trading Rick Nash, but look at it this way - unlike your perceived trade value, Nash is likely going to bring a very big return. Trading a 30+ goal scorer isn't so bad if it brings picks, young forwards, and likely a blue chip prospect or two.
Also consider that we're a team whose defense has been turning into a pretty solid unit over the last few months. With Fedor Tyutin, Nikita Nikitin, James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson, Marc Methot, and John Moore all ready to go, and guys like David Savard, Dalton Prout, and Will Weber in the system, there is, dare I say it, a quite respectable NHL level squad with a reasonable expectation of depth here.
Offensively, we may not offer the Sedin Twins, but we do bring exciting young talent like Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson. We have the grit and determination of R.J. Umberger. We have the veteran experience of Vinny Prospal, and the fiery spirit of Mark Letestu, Derek Dorsett, and Cody Bass. These are guys who want to win here, who give 60 minute efforts, and who are not afraid to pay the price on defense in front of your net. We have guys blocking shots and sacrificing the body for Steve Mason. Not even Calder Trophy quality Steve Mason. I'm talking "I think this round thing isn't supposed to go behind me" Steve Mason. Imagine what they'd do for you? Ever wanted to see 19 guys run through a brick wall? Make a few saves like this for them.
In terms of opponents, consider that you've got a 60% winning against the Central Division over the last five seasons? Also, consider that while the Blue Jackets travel a fair bit (that's life in the West), they do have a MUCH nicer travel schedule than Vancouver?
Oh, and would you like a chance to get large doses of payback against the Blackhawks? How does six meetings a year (pending realignment) sound?
Now, if you don't mind me getting too forward...let's talk about your family.
You've got a couple of young kids. Isn't it nice that Columbus has one of the best pediatric care facilities in the country? That we have excellent schools? That we have a community that generally holds a standard of "the athletes and their families deserve a peaceful life outside of the rink"? That our city has been so welcoming that there's a community of over 20 current and former NHL players who now call Columbus their permanent home?
Your wife currently lives in Florida. Even if she didn't want to leave Miami for various reasons, wouldn't it be nice to live in the same time zone? Not having to do mental math before you call to ask how her day has gone? No more "Oops, sorry honey, I forgot it's 3am there" moments?
I admit we don't have a sea wall, but I think you'll find this a reasonable substitute. You can even make a decent walk out of the Mile and then up over to the arena. Oh, and speaking of the media...I would point out that unlike the average media scrum in Vancouver you can expect maybe between 5-10 members of the media, and in my experience they understand that public figures still have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Our fans, while passionate, generally restrict their violent riots to football, and last but certainly not least, let's consider cost of living in Vancouver versus Columbus. $6.7 million dollars spends pretty well anywhere, but isn't it nice when it goes just a little bit farther?
We know you can be a leader. We know you can be a champion. We know you have the skills to be one of the best in the world.
You were dealt a rough hand. We have a team here that could be a winner with the right man behind them on the ice. You could use a chance to just play without carrying an entire city on your shoulders. We can give you town that is dying to embrace a hero, but still lets you get a coffee in the morning without getting bugged for autographs.
Give us a chance. You're likely to like what you find.