Luong Time Coming: Luongo traded to Panthers

Thomas Drance
March 04 2014 02:56PM


It took two years of controversy, countless false alarms, another high-end goalie being traded, an emotional press conference at the 2013 NHL trade deadline, and a complete fanbase meltdown at BC Place this past weekend. But finally, mercifully, Roberto Luongo has been re-assigned to Vancouver's Eastern Conference affiliate traded to the Florida Panthers.

Luongo has confirmed the deal and even tweeted out an emoticon of a palm tree. Obviously he's excited about going home. 

Coming back to Vancouver is a package that includes Jacob Markstrom - who Eddie Lack used to backup in Brynas - and probably forward Shawn Matthias. The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly, and unsurprisingly, retaining a portion of Luongo's salary in the transaction supposedly 15% or 800,000. You have to retain an equal proportion of both salary and cap-hit under the league's retained salary transaction provisions so, yeah. Also the Canucks are sending Stephen Anthony to Florida. He's not a prospect and that's just a book keeping part of the deal.

Click past the jump for more.

First we have to touch on Luongo himself, because this is an emotional day for most Canucks fans. During the entirety of his Canucks tenure Luongo was a super-elite goaltender and was good enough every season to carry a bad team to the playoffs (which is something the Canucks only occassionally were). 

By my personal odd standard of evaluating netminders - I care about a netminder posting an elite even-strength save percentage year-after-year above all - Luongo was the best or the second best netminder in the NHL (besides Henrik Lundqvist) throughout his time as a Canuck. 

Luongo captained the Canucks for a few years, he led them to six playoff series victories and to a Stanley Cup Final. Most memorably he won a gold medal starting for Team Canada when the Olympics were hosted by Vancouver in 2010. Despite his track record, he was probably the most polarizing star in franchise history and this is a franchise that arguably retired Pavel Bure's number a decade too late, so that's saying something...

It's tough to figure out what Luongo's legacy will be in the final analysis. There's significant baggage on the negative side of the ledger, after all, from the playoff collapses to the two-year trade saga (which Luongo reportedly played a part in exacerbating at the 2012 NHL draft). But that Luongo is unrivaled as the greatest netminder in the history of the Canucks franchise should be beyond question. 

Maybe a decade or two from now the franchise will figure out a way to honour him appropriately, if he lets them. No one would blame him if he wanted no part of it, however.

Onto the trade. The Canucks get Shawn Matthias and Jacob Markstrom who are relatively young and somewhat promising. Matthias is big and decent but not a consistent top-six forward. Markstrom has been consistent and stellar in the AHL, but his high level of performance in San Antonio hasn't translated at the NHL level where he's struggled enormously. Will he figure it out? Who knows.

The real benefit to the Canucks is that they get out from under Luongo's "immovable" lifetime contract. Yeah there's a ticking time bomb waiting for them as a result of the "Luongo rule" or cap-benefit recapture penalty, but that's for another day (and probably another management regime) to worry about. The cap might be at 90+ million by then anyway.

All things considered the Canucks did alright with this deal, I figure. Matthias and Markstrom are decent, inexpensive, relatively young assets and the team is eating only 800,000 of Luongo's contract. That's certainly inconvenient but it isn't too painful - especially with the upper limit of the salary cap expected to rise going forward. Think of it this way: it's just the cost of one Tom Sestito! 

But that cheery summary is just us looking at the deal in a vacuum, and this saga has gone on for way to long for today's trade to be analyzed that way.

The fact is, this was a reactive move. It was likely a move borne out of necessity and desperation after the circus that was this past weekend's Heritage Classic. A number of forces have contributed to what went down in Vancouver's crease over the past year: the lockout, a reigned in salary cap, the vindictive cap benefit recapture clause. Also you might add ownership's clear and complete unwillingness to use a compliance buyout to get out from under Luongo's deal last summer. Anyway that's a quick list of contributing outside factors that were beyond management's control, y'know, for the sake of fairness.

Let's recap how we got here. You may remember that the team first began the long process of alienating Luongo by starting Cory Schneider against the Kings in April of 2012. Schneider had posted a better save percentage than Luongo had for two years running by that point, and from a hockey perspective it wasn't an absurd move. But it led to Luongo asking out of Vancouver, and it diminished Vancouver's leverage. Basically they'd revealed their hand on the most public of stages.

At the 2012 NHL draft and throughout that subsequent summer, the Canucks were unable to move Luongo and his massive deal. There were no takers, and anyway Luongo was steering the bus to Sunrise exclusively, which was fully within his rights as he had a no-trade clause. 

By the time the new CBA was ratified, Vancouver's goose was cooked on this front. There was no moving Luongo in a cap-benefit recapture environment and with the salary cap's upper limit due to recede to $64.3 illion this season. Not without retaining salary at least, (which Vancouver was unwilling to do until this past weekend apparently). They literally couldn't give him away, as they proved at last year's trade deadline.

At the 2013 NHL entry draft the Canucks changed course at the last moment when they finally read the writing on the wall. Unable to find a serious offer for Luongo, they traded Cory Schneider instead for the 9th overall pick. They used it to select Bo Horvat who is having a monster year for London. 

That trade, in a vacuum, was a good one. In fact one could argue - and Tyler Dellow has convincingly - that the Canucks recouped fair value for Schneider's services. The Canucks made like Churchill's conception of America and made the right move - they dealt the comparable goaltender with way higher trade value - but they did so only after exhausting all other options.

The problem with that deal is the same problem with the Luongo deal today: this is a management team that throughout this process has appeared to be flying by the seat of their pants, reacting rather than anticipating a shifting landscape. 

Trading Schneider for a prospect like Horvat was the right move, had it been made a year earlier. But by the time Schneider was moved, Luongo was so fully alienated that he didn't talk to the press all summer and changed agents. This "getting back together" thing was never going to work after what Luongo had been through. It cost Vancouver not one, but two excellent NHL goaltenders.

This all brings us to this season, where Luongo was outperformed once again by his backup (for the fourth straight year), culminating in the Heritage Classic kerfuffle. I'd reiterate that I don't think the Canucks have done that poorly with this trade, in a vacuum. But when you step back and look at the forest rather than the trees, the breadth and the extent to which this process was marked by failures to anticipate - the market, the new CBA, Luongo's emotional state - it's pretty galling. 

This is a tough day for Canucks fans, and a tough day for a management team that has turned what was one of the best tandems in the NHL into an unproven one. In the process they added a third-liner and a two-way ace (in the OHL). Not exactly an enviable haul, that.

But at least it's a good day for Luongo, who gets to move on. And actually when you factor in the cathartic element, the relief of closure that this trade brings, maybe it's a good day for the organization and its fans too in a sense. But it sure doesn't look or feel that way at the moment.

3136ae487fac57943f99a50e66e4d6cf
Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 ?
March 04 2014, 03:23PM
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… If I were a Canucks fan I'd be pissed. As a Flames fan though, I'm quite enjoying myself.

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#2 Boring John
March 04 2014, 03:18PM
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As a non-Canucks fan, I am enjoying sitting on the sidelines and laughing at this franchise's ongoing misery.

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#3 FireGillis
March 04 2014, 03:26PM
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Shameful the way gillis and Co treated Lou. Hopefully now he will get the respect he deserves in florida.

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#4 NM00
March 04 2014, 03:21PM
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So if the organization was willing to retain salary and accept a middling return on Luongo, why was Cory Schneider traded?

#firegillis

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#5 ForShame
March 04 2014, 03:33PM
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The'nucks were so close only a couple of years ago.

Now it all seems to be falling apart from the back up players to the general manager. This franchise is dying an ugly death.

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#6 Jordan.
March 04 2014, 03:36PM
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Luongo is a top three Canuck ever and by far the best goalie in our history. Hell of a run, Lu. Thanks for the saves.

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#7 james_dean
March 04 2014, 05:28PM
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Suck it canucks fans!

Go destroy some more police cars

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#8 argoleas
March 04 2014, 04:05PM
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Bob Cobb wrote:

One word to learn Canucks fans: Re-build, the sisters are getting old and the goaltending stinks, consider the Canucks window closed, latched and barred. One question: Is Tim Thomas finally going to pump Luongo's tires?

Well, nothing wrong with facing facts and going for a rebuild. Looking forward to more moves.

Sisters? Really? Dude, grow up.

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#9 Rusty
March 04 2014, 03:51PM
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? wrote:

… If I were a Canucks fan I'd be pissed. As a Flames fan though, I'm quite enjoying myself.

Dear Flames fan. As terrible as our Nucks have been ruined this past 2 years, we still have your organization to laugh at.

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#10 ?
March 04 2014, 04:16PM
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Alsker wrote:

One of the few times as an Oilers fan I am in 100% agreement with my brother from down south.

Doesn't it feel great laughing at others' misery for a change?

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#11 Harry
March 04 2014, 05:52PM
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So Van went fron having two #1 goalies to a prospect, a 3rd string goalie and a 3rd line grinder in the span of 9 months. This is beyond awful Gillis is just terrible.

Oh and not to mebtion your left with two rookie goalies that have a combined 68 games played

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#12 Trevor
March 04 2014, 03:56PM
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I am in no way condoning this trade but I have to ask; why is everyone so stunned at the low return? If I recall correctly people thought Gillis was asking for the moon last summer and laughed at the idea of getting anything but pennies on the dollar.

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#13 PB
March 04 2014, 06:05PM
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Also, good luck to Lu after so many years of stellar service. And #*& Gillis...

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#14 Alsker
March 04 2014, 03:40PM
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3 more years @ 6.7M salary, the last 4 years total barely equal any one of those years...lol...and who's on the hook for the cap hit should he retire? Suck it Vancity...5.83M caphit is yours!!!!! And I thought our (E-town) management blew(actually it does)but this is just epic. Please,please, don't fire Gillis, he may just be the best thing to happen to NHL hockey in Alberta in a long time.

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#15 Alsker
March 04 2014, 04:11PM
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? wrote:

… If I were a Canucks fan I'd be pissed. As a Flames fan though, I'm quite enjoying myself.

One of the few times as an Oilers fan I am in 100% agreement with my brother from down south.

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#16 NM00
March 04 2014, 03:01PM
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I guess the next shoe to drop is getting back Cory Schneider for Bo Horvat...

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#17 KleptoKlown
March 04 2014, 04:31PM
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Am I the only one who doesn't see this as a bad trade? Yeah, the retained salary sucks, but we can thank the new CBA for that.

Matthais is a big upgrade over Richardson as a 3rd line C. Booth and Kassian have shown some good chemistry together, and add Matthais between them, and this could be a legitimate 3rd line. Richardson going down a line improves the 4th line as well.

Markstrom was a highly touted prospect at one 1 time, and was just named AHL goalie of the month. Him and Lack are buddies from what I gather, and the 2 of them competing for the #1 job could provide some excellent goal tending.

Things are not as bleak in Canucksland as you cOiler and Lames fans would like to think.

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#18 Mantastic
March 04 2014, 05:23PM
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@KleptoKlown

and your comment about not making the playoffs was original? ha.

when it's the 50th anniversary of the Canucks, i hope they keep celebrating their Stanley Cup loses, some guy riding down the ice on his stick and surrendering "towel power". the total opposite of "pathetic" franchise, right?!

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#19 Jamie E
March 04 2014, 04:16PM
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I'm totally fine with this. Would have been nice to sneak a 2nd or 3rd round pick into the mix, but what the heck are people expecting. Nice stable of young goalies and a useful big body for the bottom six. Nothing like the people who say blow it up whining about the results.

You wanted bold moves Canucks fans? This was one.

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#20 andyg
March 04 2014, 03:28PM
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@NM00

You can't change the past why hash it over.

Lets just hope they have learned and don't wait on Kess. One more injury and he will be worthless.I would sit him for tonight.

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#21 van
March 04 2014, 03:42PM
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Does this mean we can trade Booth?

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#22 van
March 04 2014, 04:08PM
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"Matthias is big and decent but not a consistent top-six forward" What does this mean? 4th liner, no?

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#23 Senrik Hedin
March 04 2014, 04:17PM
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why is this a low return? just a year ago, markstrom was the best goalie not in the nhl. now all of a sudden, he's crap? we all love luongo but i can see this deal working out very favorably for the canucks.

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#24 Alsker
March 04 2014, 04:22PM
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c/o Clyde Frog..

Let's not forget that Matthias is a pending UFA....

So the Canucks picked up a prospect and a suspect and a 3rd line rental with 14 points for their two starting goalies...

Lololololololol

Says it all!!!

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#25 VK63
March 04 2014, 03:42PM
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WOW.

If any of the rumoured returns from the past two years were legit. I am stunned at the lack of return. Especially given that Aquilini is still paying a portion of Lou's cheques.

Amazing.

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#26 Sir Qautorze
March 04 2014, 04:18PM
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On the bright side, Shawn Matthias seems to be the 3rd line centre Gillis has been obsessed with finding ever since Malhotra went down, Maybe now he can move onto more important things like finding players that can score.

Hopefully this means he won't trade Kesler for Sutter.

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#27 Zarny
March 04 2014, 04:56PM
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KleptoKlown wrote:

Am I the only one who doesn't see this as a bad trade? Yeah, the retained salary sucks, but we can thank the new CBA for that.

Matthais is a big upgrade over Richardson as a 3rd line C. Booth and Kassian have shown some good chemistry together, and add Matthais between them, and this could be a legitimate 3rd line. Richardson going down a line improves the 4th line as well.

Markstrom was a highly touted prospect at one 1 time, and was just named AHL goalie of the month. Him and Lack are buddies from what I gather, and the 2 of them competing for the #1 job could provide some excellent goal tending.

Things are not as bleak in Canucksland as you cOiler and Lames fans would like to think.

Yep you're the only one.

Gillis traded 2 top 15 G for an upgrade on the 3rd line, a prospect whose been a complete bust so far and Bo Horvat.

If Gillis isn't fired by tomorrow morning he must have compromising pictures of the Aquilini family.

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#28 Nat
March 04 2014, 05:09PM
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"It cost Vancouver not one, but two excellent NHL goaltenders."

That's it right there. This deal, on it's own, looks pretty good. As much as I'll miss Luongo and his talent, this was a good ending for both parties, all things considered. But when you step back and look at the last couple of years, and the fact that we tried to trade Lu, then traded Cory, and now we've traded Lu...what an awful mess.

I think Gillis has done some good things during his time in Vancouver, but good lord that is a huge black mark on his resume. I would not be opposed to him being let go at the end of this season.

I'm blown away by how nuts this season has become compared to my expectations at the beginning of the season.

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#29 KleptoKlown
March 04 2014, 05:43PM
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@Mantastic

While making fun of the cOilers playoff drought isn't original, it's much more relevant to today's NHL than the Canucks teams of yesterday.

The cOilers past cups are about as relevant today as the 1915 Vancouver Millionaires cup.

The cOilers arn't only a pathetic franchise, they're hosted in an even worse city.

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#30 KleptoKlown
March 04 2014, 04:52PM
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@Alsker

The cOilers have taken "pathetic" to a whole new level. What's it been, 8years since the playoffs? After this season, the cOilers will have had what, 4 lottery picks?

I don't think it's possible for any professional team in any sport to be that pathetic.

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#31 Mantastic
March 04 2014, 04:54PM
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KleptoKlown wrote:

The cOilers have taken "pathetic" to a whole new level. What's it been, 8years since the playoffs? After this season, the cOilers will have had what, 4 lottery picks?

I don't think it's possible for any professional team in any sport to be that pathetic.

42 years and counting.

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#32 Jamie E
March 04 2014, 06:15PM
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So much revisionist history today. Where to start?

First, no one accurately predicted how incredibly punitive the cap recapture provisions of the new CBA would be. We can all contend today that Mike Gillis should have looked into his crystal ball and accepted the (still) totally rumoured and totally unconfirmed offer from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Luongo two summer's ago. 20/20 hindsight is a VERY handy thing to have.

Then comes those provisions and big drop in the salary cap. The market for Luongo disappeared overnight.

In the end Schneider is traded for a decent return as far as what goalies fetch. Horvat is a legitimate blue chip prospect (Yes NM00 I know he will never be a Valeri Nichushkin!). Goalie controversy solved.

This year Lack plays better than anyone reasonably expected him to. Torts seems to like how the team plays in front of Lack better than Luongo (I do too), new ownership comes to Florida ready to make a deal for Luongo the old ownership wouldn't the previous summer and viola! The "untradeable" "albatross" contract is gone.

Result: Vancouver fans still poop their pants and wring their hands after screaming that a) Luongo and his crazy contract should be traded for a bucket of piss and b) the core of the team should all be dispatched in an aggressive rebuild.

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#33 Gunnar
March 04 2014, 07:45PM
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Oiler and Flame Fans yuk it up you've been waiting a number of (division titles, president trophies, and PLAYOFFS) years for this. There you go, get it out of your system. Now back to reality, you guys are going to take runs at the Canucks organization? Really, really!

Flames Fans, admittedly the Lou situation was handled.... badly, yeah that works lets leave it at that. But does this "disaster" even crack the flames top five @%^$ ups, and I'm just talking the last two years here only. Forget the past 25 years were your franchise has made it out of the first round once, hell did they even make the playoffs in half those years? Answer: Hells No. No lets not go to far into the past (Glass houses being what they are no naucks fan can make a firm stand on glorious pasts), lets just keep this current. Your franchise goalie got a return of what? There's got to be something to show for the greatest goalie in franchise history, a draft pick, future considerations, something right. Whats that, nothing you say. You got absolutely $*&^ all. A third line NHL player even for 20 game only and a prospect doesn't look so bad now does it.

Iginla, the greatest player to ever wear the flaming C. Got a nickel and two pieces of lint on the dollar for him. Slow clap to you boys. Some one should have been fired for this tire fire. Oh someone was good job, but not before he did this;

Drafting Mark Jankowski...... hahahahahaahaahahahahahahahahahahhahhahaaaahhhahahahahahhhahaahhahahahahahaaaa...................... oh god.... side hurts......hahaahah... can't breath.......................hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahaha ......ahahhahahahahhahaahahahahahahahahahahhaahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaa.

These are some epic disasters flames fans but lets not forget Ryan O'Reilly. Your team signs a player knowing that they'd have to give up first, second, and third round picks but doesn't know that they then have to put him through waivers!!!!!! WTF!!! GMMG may have handle Louigate like a drunken sailor in port after six months at sea but at least he knows the elfin CBA, yo know cause it his JOB.

Alright, I couldn't find a fifth @%^$ up bigger then Louigate but thats a whole heaping pile of you no what Flames Fans. Best clean up your own back yard before you going knocking on our door.

Oilers Fans, I'd love to tear into your franchise and its recent ineptitude but man piling on you guys just feels like picking on the blind deaf kid in school. Besides I've lived in Edmonton so I know there is nothing anyone can say our do to you that would be worse then having to live there. You guys just keep on keeping on.

That said, anyone want to bet on which team completes the rb first and gets back into the playoffs flames fans? oiler fans? Yeah didn't think so.

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#34 Lando Calrissian
March 04 2014, 03:16PM
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This seems like a dubious return. Someone tell me that's not the case.

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#35 RobG
March 04 2014, 03:28PM
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I called it when Eddie lack started the Heritage Classic on Sunday. They didn't play Luongo because they didn't want him to get hurt.

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#36 Mantastic
March 04 2014, 04:54PM
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@KleptoKlown

said by a fan of a franchise which has done what? and this trade is make you guys competing for the same high draft pick.

people living in glass houses...

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#37 GeezMoney
March 04 2014, 05:04PM
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Zarny wrote:

Yep you're the only one.

Gillis traded 2 top 15 G for an upgrade on the 3rd line, a prospect whose been a complete bust so far and Bo Horvat.

If Gillis isn't fired by tomorrow morning he must have compromising pictures of the Aquilini family.

You're totally blind. Coming from Alberta, it's hard to see why a team would want cap relief. I mean, when you can't sign free agents, it's impossible to see the value in having cap space. BUT from the point of view of a desirable market, moving Luongo without taking heavy cap weight makes a lot of sense.

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#38 Alsker
March 04 2014, 05:20PM
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@KleptoKlown

If this was last spring(prior to the Schneider deal)I would agree completely, BUT, it's not!!! Here's hoping Lou packs it in in 2 maybe 3 years and you get nailed with the cap hit for the last 5-6 years.

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#39 argoleas
March 04 2014, 05:21PM
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NM00 wrote:

So if the organization was willing to retain salary and accept a middling return on Luongo, why was Cory Schneider traded?

#firegillis

Simple. Florida did not want him then.

Now, that does not change the fact this whole goalie situation was badly managed, and the team is only able to tread water because Lack looks better than anticipated. But overall lack of substance for the combined loss of two such fine goaltenders will hurt.

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#40 PB
March 04 2014, 06:02PM
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The deal in and of itself isn't so bad -- I don't know how Markstrom all of a sudden got to be such a bust, he's all of 24 and his NHL experience has been with a pretty crappy NHL team. It's actually a lot more than I was expecting we'd get for Luongo at the end of the day. But as many others have pointed out, losing two #1 goalies for a high pick, a good prospect (you know, the opposite of a Steven Anthony) and a 3rd liner doesn't look too hot (though in today's NHL we all know that it's often as much about contracts as straight hockey value).

But even if we got Barkov I would've said that Gillis and the front office team has managed to completely screw this up. At best Canucks management looks incompetent, at worst clueless and out of touch with its players and coaches. If this was really forced by being sat post-Olympics and for the outdoor game -- and I find it hard to believe that Tortorella precipitated all of this -- then the coach should be fired, with Gillis shortly following suit for a mountain of ineptitude this season.

It's also so cute to see Flames and Oilers fans crowing about this. At least Blackhawks, Bruins, Kings, etc fans have something to hang their hat on this century. Though it was nice to see Edmonton turn Bryzgalov into something of value.

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#41 Bob Cobb
March 04 2014, 04:02PM
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One word to learn Canucks fans: Re-build, the sisters are getting old and the goaltending stinks, consider the Canucks window closed, latched and barred. One question: Is Tim Thomas finally going to pump Luongo's tires?

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#42 KleptoKlown
March 04 2014, 04:36PM
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Alsker wrote:

Misery definitely loves company!!!

Guess that's why cOiler and Lames fans are together. 2 jokes of franchises competing for a high draft pick...again.

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#43 5minutesinthebox
March 04 2014, 04:40PM
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Jamie E wrote:

I'm totally fine with this. Would have been nice to sneak a 2nd or 3rd round pick into the mix, but what the heck are people expecting. Nice stable of young goalies and a useful big body for the bottom six. Nothing like the people who say blow it up whining about the results.

You wanted bold moves Canucks fans? This was one.

Im with you...the ablatross that was created is gone creating cap space and relief, we get a young physical forward (who has 9g 7a playing on Florida), and a young tender who to add to the lack of depth in the system (we know Rollies ability to help a goalies game progress).

More importantly, the drama that accompanied Luongo and his situation here is gone. We can actually start to move forward.

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#44 KleptoKlown
March 04 2014, 05:08PM
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@Mantastic

Oh look, an original comment about how the Canucks haven't won the cup. Never seen this before.

1990 was almost 25 years ago.

Pretty sad when your badge of honor is all rusted, and yet you still cling to it.

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#45 Samson
March 04 2014, 07:11PM
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@Mantastic

What's pathetic is the fact that you're not even a Canucks fan and you're here every day trying to "troll" us.

Everybody's acting like Markstrom and Matthias are dog food but may I remind you they've been playing in FLORIDA?

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#46 Boring John
March 04 2014, 07:41PM
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I like the job Gillis is doing. Hope he gets an extension. Very sound moves. Can't wait to see what he gets for Kesler.

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#47 EddyBeers
March 04 2014, 04:33PM
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Get back in your closets canuckle heads. Enjoy the rebuild!!!

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#48 NM00
March 04 2014, 04:43PM
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@5minutesinthebox

"the ablatross that was created is gone creating cap space and relief"

False.

The Canucks will be be on the hook for Lou, both in terms of retained salary and cap recapture down the road, for a LONG time.

#capwizardry

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#49 GeezMoney
March 04 2014, 04:47PM
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What's with all these douchey Alberta fans coming in here and acting... we crummy like Alberta?

Anyway, this is a good trade for all parties involved... except for Mike Gillis.

That it took this long, that they got this as a return and that Alberta fans feel brave enough to come here and be douchey is probably indictment enough on Gillis' job as a GM. Time for the agent to go back to his day job.

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#50 Zarny
March 04 2014, 04:47PM
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I was going to comment on the Luongo trade when it was first announced but it took me an hour or so to pick myself up off the floor from laughing so hard.

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