Luongo Would Waive his NTC if Asked

It looks like Luongo’s waiving goodbye, but he’s just calling for a towel.
Still this photo makes me sad.

In his end of year presser today, Mike Gillis notably dodged questions about the status of head coach Alain Vigneault. He refused time and time again to be pinned down, and avoided giving an explicit answer. The other topic he avoided answering explicitly? What he’ll do to solve Vancouver’s log-jam between the pipes.

In his press conference, Gillis waffled, and seemed to leave the door open to the prospect of returning both goaltenders next season. When the players met with the press, however, Luongo’s choice of words and tone belied the reality that the team is likely to try and move him over the course of this summer.

Read past the jump for more.

Let’s begin with the comments themselves, here’s what Luongo said on Tuesday (via the Province)

Even though I have a no-trade, it’s not my decsion," Luongo said. "It’s a very unique circumstance I think that we are in where we have an elite guy, a young guy who is up and coming, who is probably going to dominate the league for many years.

"I’m not sure what I would do if I was GM."

Luongo also told Jason Botchford that he understands if the team wants to go forward with Cory Schneider as their starting goaler, and that if he were in Mike Gillis’ shoes, he’d probably do the same. What’s Luongo thinking here? Justin Bourne has a good theory:

I think Roberto Luongo has just given up trying to be the Mr. Perfect everyone wants him to be in Vancouver. His contract turned him into a villian (apparently), and it feels like he’s given up trying to please everyone. He’s just seems to be rolling with the punches lately.

You want me to sit on the bench during some tough games? Fine. You want me to play back-up during the playoffs? Kay. You want me to start? Happily. WHATEVER.

The fans have booed him, the media has worked him, and it’s like he’s become an exasperated mother of four boys just existing, facing whatever comes next head-on. Oh look, grape juice on the carpet. He just seems beaten down and tired of fighting.

Yes, I would waive my no-trade clause if asked, because if I’m asked, I’m already traded. I think all he proved is that he’s not completely naive.

I’ve always thought that Luongo had "failed" on big stages, in such a wide variety of ways, and been subjected to such absurd ridicule and criticism that he’d eventually develop a reflective sheen of teflon on his skin. It looks like that’s what has happened after all. 

Luongo may be sick of the endless pomp and speculation in Vancouver, but Gillis in his press conference, was more circumspect. The Canucks General Manager clearly enjoys the luxury of his team employing two franchise goaltenders, and said as much on Tuesday morning (transcription my own):

"I think they’ve become better goaltenders because of each other. Either one of them gives us an oppportunity to win every game we play. Luongo’s body of work is unquestionable, he’s done everything you can do except win a Stanley Cup and I have every bit of confidence going forward [in both of them]"

Later in the press conference Gillis was asked about whether or not the two goaltenders can share the job and answered, "We’ll see if it’s going to be a workable relationship going forward."

I’ve heard it said that the Canucks have "painted themselves into a corner" on the question of which goaltender should stay, and which should go. By starting Schneider in games three, four and five of the playoffs against the Kings, the Canucks essentially are "forced" to move on from the Luongo era, and wood with Cory Schneider. Not to quibble over semantics, but "painted themselves into a corner" seems less accurate to my ears than "tipped their hand."

The Canucks, like many (all) other teams in the league, find Schneider to be the more attractive asset based on his performance thus far in his career, his youth and his relative affordability against the cap. If the Canucks can figure out a way for Luongo and Schneider to continue their comfortable and successful coexistence, they may keep both tenders, but based on the realities of the salary cap that strikes me as extremely unlikely. 

Depsite Luongo’s typically inflammatory comments on Tuesday, the situation between the pipes in Vancouver remains essentially unchanged. It is probable that the Canucks will move a goaltender at the draft, and they’d probably prefer it be Luongo. If the team gets a deal they like enough, they’ll ask Luongo to waive his no-trade clause, and while I highly doubt he’d be willing to go to Columbus to play behind Jack Johnson (no matter what his comments today indicate), it’s clear Luongo would be amenable to moving on, and seeing Vancouver in his rearview mirror. I’d imagine that would be a relief.

This is a situation that will be watched closely, league wide this summer. Both goaltenders are stars, who are very, very good (probably top-10 in the league) at stopping pucks. Cory Schneider is sharp as a tack, and was dominant in his thirty odd appearances this season. Roberto Luongo, on the other hand, is the best goaltender in franchise history; he’s funny, he’s a team guy and he’s a competitor. He’s taken a lot of crap from this fanbase, and from the national media despite a decade of consistently excellent play, and maybe he deserves better. 

But is there still a chance that it’ll be Schneider who moves, and not Luongo? I find it hard to disagree with Harrison Mooney’s logic here:

Prior to the trade deadline, I argued that Schneider was available, and I remain convinced that, despite everything that’s gone on since, he still is. But he’s worth a fortune. If someone pays that exorbitant price, it won’t matter that Roberto Luongo is willing to waive his no-trade clause; he won’t be asked to.

At the end of the day, however, I remain convinced that the Canucks did "tip their hand" in games three, four and five of the series against the Kings. The Canucks have marked their man, and it’s Cory Schneider. But man, it will be a sad day in Canucks Nation when Roberto Luongo, one of the league’s best goaltenders, is sent out East for cents on the dollar.