Bergeron the hero, Luongo a zero

Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron hoists the Stanley Cup at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., June 15,...

Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron hoists the Stanley Cup at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., June 15, 2011. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:16 AM ET

VANCOUVER - Back on that historic sun-splashed late Febuary afternoon in 2010, Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo stood on the Rogers Arena ice surface, Olympic gold medals dangling around their necks, euphoric smiles splashed over their faces.

Canada had just defeated the U.S. 3-2 in the championship game thanks to Sidney Crosby’s golden goal. As the giddy crowd belted out the chords of “O Canada,” Bergeron and Luongo looked up at the flag, tears welling up in their eyes.

Now, 16 months later, the two Olympic friends had turned into foes, enemies facing off in a one-game showdown for hockey’s Holy Grail.

Here they were on Wednesday night, playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final on the same ice surface where their Olympic dream had come true, all the while knowing that their respective legacies would be determined by the outcome of this one game.

In the end, Bergeron was the hero.

And Luongo the zero.

Out here on the West Coast, they won’t remember that it was Bergeron’s two goals that propelled the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 1972. Or that the Canucks lost this final partially because their pathetic offence could only muster eight goals in seven games.

Rightly or wrongly, this devastated city has awarded the coveted goat horns to Roberto Luongo.

In the initial aftermath of the defeat, it didn’t really seem to matter to bitter Vancouver fans that Canucks forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the back-to-back Art Ross Trophy winners, combined for just two goals in the series.

Or that Ryan Kesler, the other member of the Canucks’ so-called “Big Three,” only had one point in seven games against the Bruins.

On Tuesday, Kesler told reporters that it didn’t matter that he had only hit the scoreboard once in the series. Win Game 7, he proclaimed, and he and his teammates would be “legends.”

It was a brutal statement, one that reeked of a player who was trying to avoid being accountable.

No matter.

In the days, weeks and months to come, there will be more accusing fingers wagged at Luongo than anyone else on the Canucks roster.

And, truth be told, it will be hard to defend him.

In the three losses in Beantown, Luongo stunk out the joint by allowing 15 goals on 66 shots.

But this was Game 7. This was supposed to be different. This was being played in Rogers Arena, where Luongo had been a perfect 3-0 in the series with an outstanding 0.67 goals-against average and two shutouts in the final.

So much for that trend.

Maybe Luongo wasn't at fault when Bergeron opened the scoring 14:37 into the first period, placing a perfect shot off the far post, but it was obvious the fans in Rogers Arena were getting restless with the Canucks netminder.

It would turn into pure bitterness in the second period.

First, it was Bruins forward Brad Marchand on a wraparound who banked the puck in the net off Luongo’s arm to give Boston a 2-0 lead.

Then it was Bergeron, having been hauled down on a breakaway, sliding into Luongo along with a Canucks defenceman, somehow watching the puck slide into the far corner.

And with that, once the Bruins had completed their 4-0 victory, Bobby Lou had turned into Bobby Boo.

It will be a long summer for Luongo. A segment of the fans will be calling for backup Cory Schneider to take over. But how do you move Luongo’s contract, an 11-year deal with an average annual cap hit of $5.7 million?

Bergeron’s story is a far more optimistic one.

Not so long ago, the Bruins forward, having suffered a severe concussion, had to spend his days in a dark room. Just walking to the kitchen was a chore.

Four years later, here he is, a Stanley Cup ring and Olympic gold medal to his name.

For Patrice Bergeron, life is outstanding these days.

For Roberto Luongo? Not so much.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter/com/zeisberger


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