It was truly an offseason of change for Roberto Luongo.
Let's start with the obvious: the all-star netminder is no longer the captain of the Vancouver Canucks. Luongo separated himself from the title a week ago, as well as the extra distractions that came with being the outright leader of a team with huge expectations in a market starved for success.
As much as Luongo enjoyed being the captain, the main man in the room, he showcased a great deal of maturity and selflessness in returning the captaincy. Nothing has actually changed with Luongo, though, who is approaching training camp and his game the way he always has.
"I'm the same guy, I'm not going to change the way I was whether I'm captain or not," Luongo said Saturday. "I'm going to be vocal when I feel I need to be and I'm just going to go about my business the same way. At the end of the day, really it's just a letter and a title and it doesn't really change much for me."
The true change for Luongo comes on the ice, as for the first time in his tenure with the Canucks, and dating back to his second year in Florida in 2001-02, he won't be working with goalie coach Ian Clark.
Clark was unable to the commit to the Canucks on a full-time basis and the team was convinced having someone around for Luongo every practice would benefit the 31-year-old goalie, so former Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Roland Melanson was brought in.
Melanson, the first goaltender born in New Brunswick to play in the NHL, spent 12 years in the League playing for five teams, winning three Stanley Cups with the Islanders from 1981-1983. His resume is impressive, but he and Luongo still need to establish a strong bond for their relationship to flourish. They put in some time this summer to get ahead of the game.
"I had a chance to work with him this summer when he came down to Florida for a week -- we had a chance to get a good ground and develop a relationship and work on some things," Luongo said.
"It's good to have that happen in August, because then once I get to camp I'm already familiar with certain things that he wants me to bring to my game."
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