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Schneider-Luongo saga reaches new, strange heights

Vancouver Canucks goaltenders Roberto Luongo (L) and Cory Schneider (R) talk on the ice during practice for Game 4 of their NHL Western Conference quarter-final playoff against the Los Angeles Kings at the Kings' practice facility in El Segundo, California April 17, 2012.


The Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo saga has reached new, and strange, heights, with the Vancouver Canucks coach announcing he has "two No. 1s" in goal and the team general manager saying there is a potential deal in place to trade Luongo.

Yes, two games into the hockey season and it's a circus in Vancouver, a sideshow to the showing on the ice, where it's not pretty either, the Canucks having opened the truncated campaign with two losses, one a blowout and the second in a shootout.

Most of all, nothing is clear, like the persistent fog that continues to cloud the city.

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"Would you not say I have two No. 1s right now?" said coach Alain Vigneault after practice on Tuesday in response to a question of whether Schneider is the team's No. 1 goalie. "I've got two great goaltenders and my job is to pick the one I feel gives us the best chance to win."

Vigneault said he is following the same method he used last year, when Luongo was the long-established starter and Schneider was the backup, until he won the starting job at an unusual time – in the middle of the first round of the playoffs against Los Angeles.

Two facts are clear: Schneider was the starter on opening night – playing badly – and Schneider will start Wednesday night at home against the Calgary Flames, who arrive in Vancouver 0-2. Schneider seeks redemption as he was awful against Anaheim last Saturday, giving up five goals on 14 shots in 26 minutes and 37 seconds of work – the last three goals coming in four minutes.

More fog: General manager Mike Gillis, in a report printed Tuesday, said that he has a "potential deal in place with one team," a deal that hinges on another unnamed player.

Asked about it on Tuesday at Rogers Arena, Gillis was coy, and brief, in a short interview: "There are lots of potentials," adding that nothing firm is in place.

Luongo, for his part, said he knows nothing, and asserted he has not spoken with Gillis about it.

"I don't know what to make of it, to be honest with you," said Luongo in the locker room after practice Tuesday. "I don't want to read into that stuff that's in the papers and out there in the media, because that's just detrimental to myself and the team. Until I hear from Mike himself, I'm not going to make anything of it."

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Schneider, in a media scrum right beside the Luongo media scrum, said he does not feel uncertainty about his position as Vancouver's No. 1 man, comments he made about 20 minutes before Vigneault told reporters there are "two No. 1s."

"It was a bad game, a very bad game, to start the year," said Schneider, "but, you know, I would like to think that 60 games prior to that is more of a body of evidence than 25 minutes of bad hockey, so I'm going use that to be confident in my game."

Luongo – so often in the harsh glare of the spotlight in his six-plus years in Vancouver – counselled calm.

"There's been a lot of stuff said, you know, so if I start analyzing every article or every quote or every this and that, it's going to be a long one for me," said Luongo. "As far as I'm concerned, Mike hasn't come to me and I'm a Vancouver Canuck."

Vigneault – who could have but did not quell the swirl of questions – said all the clatter makes no difference to the players on the team, and causes no discord and friction or any other negative vibe.

"I'm convinced that none of our players are going home today saying, 'Oh, Lui should be playing, or Schneids should be playing,'" said Vigneault. "They're concentrating on their game. All this stuff, it's just stuff. It's good for TV and it's good for radio but I don't think our guys are by the radio listening to what people are saying."

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