Philadelphia, PA – Roberto Luongo said after his recent preseason shutout over the New York Rangers that he likes to get tested early.
One would think that after more than 700 career NHL games, the 34-year-old would have few tests left to face in his career.
That isn't the case for Luongo as he enters his eighth season with the Vancouver Canucks. Instead, the former three-time All-Star will be trying to show his own team that he is still a capable No. 1.
It has the potential of being as awkward as taking an ex-girlfriend to a wedding. The Canucks, though, are the ones who renewed their vows with Luongo when they opted to trade former heir apparent, Cory Schneider, to the New Jersey Devils on draft day.
It may not have fully been Vancouver's choice. Luongo has proved untradeable since getting supplanted by Schneider during the 2012 playoffs thanks to a 12- year, $64 million deal that runs through 2021-22. That likely makes it till death do we part between the two.
So, the Canucks have let Luongo off the couch and back into the bed for the upcoming season. The rest of Vancouver is just hoping the two don't sleep back-to-back for too much longer.
Nobody really knows how Luongo feels after being first tossed aside then thrust back into the starting role. He certainly hasn't been handled like a goaltender who has won nearly 350 regular-season games, a 2010 gold medal with Canada and the 2011 William M. Jennings Trophy with Schneider for allowing the fewest goals in the season.
Of course, a Stanley Cup championship is missing from that resume despite back-to-back Presidents' Trophies in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Hopefully there are more good days ahead, like Thursday's 41-save shutout over the Rangers that helped Luongo close the preseason on a very positive note.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction. You want to keep building off that," noted the netminder. "That being said, it doesn't mean it's going to translate automatically into a great start. I've had some great preseasons before and sometimes it doesn't quite translate.
"It's all about the work you put in, in practice and working on your game."
Though management is the same, Luongo does get a bit of a fresh start under new head coach John Tortorella, who replaces Alain Vigneault.
"I thought 'Louie' was really good. I think things could have been different if he didn't play the way he played," Tortorella said after the win over his former Rangers club.
The hockey world knows that Tortorella is no easy spouse to get along with and has a tendency to end the honeymoon rather quickly. But a fresh start is a fresh start.
For Luongo, he is looking to make it happily ever after.