Canucks' goalie Roberto Luongo, sporting the captain's "C" on his helmet, makes a save in the second period. ((Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press))

Roberto Luongo found a way to stay within NHL rules but also let the world know he is the new captain of the Vancouver Canucks.

Forbidden by the NHL from sporting the captain's "C" on his jersey because he is a goaltender, Luongo had the letter put on his mask for Sunday night's pre-season game against the visiting Anaheim Ducks.

"It can stand for whatever he wants it to stand for," said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, when asked whether the C stood for Canucks or captain.

The dark blue C is located on the bottom of Luongo's mask in the area that protects his throat. It is clearly separate from the mask's painted design and resembles the plain letter that a captain usually wears on a jersey.

The Canucks broke tradition Tuesday by naming Luongo as their new captain, the first goaltender to receive the honour since Bill Durnan held the post for the Montreal Canadiens in 1947-48 61 seasons ago.

Durnan's penchant for leaving his crease to talk to officials prompted the league to create a rule that is still in effect today.

It prohibits a goaltender from acting as a captain or alternate captain on the ice and wearing a C on his jersey.

More than half a century later, the NHL remains concerned that allowing a goaltender to perform traditional captain's duties will give a team unscheduled timeouts. Luongo is not allowed to discuss calls with officials or participate in pre-game face-offs.

Gillis sought clarification of the rule from NHL executives before naming Luongo captain. The Canucks were left without a captain when Markus Naslund signed a free-agent contract with the New York Rangers in the off-season.

With files from the Canadian Press