Luongo controversy sets hockey abuzz 

April, 25, 2011

I don't know about you, but my eyes are bleary from a crazy second weekend of these Stanley Cup playoffs. On Saturday, hockey junkies were treated to a schedule that featured back-to-back-to-back-to-back games. You could've kicked back in your easy chair at noon (9 a.m. on the West Coast) and stayed there until past 1 a.m.

On Easter Sunday, we had three more games, starting at 3 p.m. and running until about 11 p.m. Two of those three games went to extra time, with both OT winners staving off elimination. In all, we've witnessed at least one overtime game in each of the past six days. Can we make it seven tonight?

In this edition of the Monday 10, I'll give you the top headlines from my weekend on the couch.

1. Gutsy decision

Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault sent shock waves throughout the league when he decided to bench struggling Vezina nominee Roberto Luongo for Sunday night's Game 6 against the Blackhawks in Chicago, opting instead for rookie backup Cory Schneider.

Vigneault originally told the media that Luongo would be the starter, but he informed the team of his decision Sunday morning.

Unless Luongo has some sort of undisclosed injury, Vigneault made a pretty bold move. After all, the Canucks' former captain has 11 more years left on his current 12-year deal. Perhaps Vigneault figured he wouldn't be around for those future seasons if he didn't make this decision now.

In the end, Luongo had to return to the crease to replace an injured Schneider in the third period. The veteran surrendered the overtime game winner that forced a Game 7 in Vancouver on Tuesday.

Although Schneider says he's available if needed, I have to figure that Luongo will be in goal for Game 7. I'd say that's a bit of a pressure spot for the goaltender, the coach and the franchise. That's some must-see TV, for sure.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.