Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo has been named team captain despite a league rule that forbids goaltenders from holding the title. Luongo will be the team skipper even though he will not be able to do the only two things the rules require captains to do: wear a 'C' on the front of their jersey and discuss disputed calls with the referees. Dealing with referees is why goaltenders are not allowed to be captains, since it would be impractical to have a goalie wandering around the ice talking to officials and then have to scurry back to their goal before play resumes.
Luongo's role will focus on all the aspects of the captaincy that aren't included in the rule book. He will be the liaison between the team and the coaching staff and management. He will make himself available to the media after every game and practice, and he will motivate his teammates, be it with fire-and-brimstone speeches or by on-ice determination in practice and in games.
Luongo will have help. Alternate captains Willie Mitchell, Mattias Ohlund, and Ryan Kesler will handle other leadership roles. Mitchell will talk to referees during games while Ohlund will handle ceremonial faceoffs.
Mitchell, touted by some to succeed Markus Naslund as captain, admitted Luongo's appointment was "unconventional."
"At first, you're wondering how it's going to work but when you really sit there and think about it, he's the obvious choice," Mitchell said. "Roberto has been a leader on this team since Day One when he got here. I think it makes perfect sense."
The last goalie to be named an NHL captain was Montreal Canadiens goaltender Bill Durnan, who took the role in t he 1947. Before that, George Hainsworth of the Montreal Canadiens and John Ross Roach of the Toronto St. Patricks were goalie captains. Chicago Blackhawks backstop Chuck Gardiner became the first and only goalie to win the Stanley as a captain.
The Canucks are hoping that Luongo will be the second.