Look ma, no photoshop!
What’s up with the never ending story that is the Roberto Luongo trade situation?
Well, Harvey Fialkov of the Florida Sun Sentinel has a double punch combo of "Luongo wants to be traded to the Panthers" content today. First he wrote a column about Luongo practicing at the Panther’s practice facility, the "saveology.com iceplex" in Coral Springs Florida. Per Fialkov:
In a bizarre, slightly uncomfortable scene at Saveology.com Iceplex Tuesday morning, current Panthers goalie tandem Scott Clemmensen and Jose Theodore were beginning an informal practice with several teammates just moments after estranged Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo had finished his own skate.
Luongo has made it clear that since Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis promoted goalie Cory Schneider to starter with a three-year, $12 million contract extension, that he wants to be traded to the Panthers, the franchise he established his All-Star credentials with from 2001-06 and back to an area he still maintains an offseason residence with his wife and two young children…
[The Panthers] makes sense for myself, for my career and my family,” added Luongo, who still has 10 years at $5.33 million per remaining on his deal. "That being said. There’s obvious other options as well. This is a preferred location for obvious reasons but I’m not shutting the door on other possibilities if it comes up.”
Read on past the jump.
While that’s undeniably awkward, it’s not that unusual for a player who is "property" of another team, to practice at a rival NHL club’s practice facility during the summer. Coyotes holdout Kyle Turris, for example, skated at UBC with members of the Canucks during the fall of 2011.
If anything is imminent anyway, Luongo’s agent Giles Lupien is playing it close to the vest:
Lupien has had no contact with
#Canucks gm Mike Gillis since late June.
— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) September 4, 2012
Fialkov then posted this video, somewhat misleadingly titled "Luongo wants to play for the Panthers," over at the Sun Sentinel’s website. Here’s a transcript of Luongo’s quotes from the video. Notice how he goes out of his way to stipulate that he’s not exclusively fixated on taking his flowing locks to South Beach:
"It’s been a bit of a rough summer not knowing what’s going to happen, the only thing to do is keep working and getting ready as if we were about to commence another season, there’s a lockout and my situation ahead of me and I’m just going to take it one day at a time and make the best of it and just enjoy the moment."
"Yeah both of my kids were born here, we live here in the offseason and it’s a great area. But this is definitely one of the destinations."
– That would be high on your list?
"Yeah of course, it’s definitely an option that is up there – I’m not saying it’s the only option – but it’s definitely one of them."
So what does all of this tell us? Frankly none of it tells us anything new, but I love that Luongo snuck a "one day at a time… and enjoy the moment," into an early September web-interview.
That the Florida Panthers are Luongo’s preferred destination is a poorly kept secret, and we’ve known that the Canucks have been haggling back and forth with their Panthers "farm team" about a potential Luongo trade for months. Of course, Luongo ultimately does have a full no-trade clause so any trade he’s included in will have to meet his approval, but at the moment, Luongo is not publicly saying that Florida is the only option.
Meanwhile in other Luongo speculation emanating from Florida, Jose Theodore told the Miami Herald last week that he thinks CBA uncertainty is holding up the Luongo trade. Are you buying that? Because I’m not.
Allow me to build a metaphor in order to illustrate this. On my West coast Vancouver vacation this past week, I noticed that "For Sale" signs in front of big houses on the West Side of Vancouver are now as, if not more, prevalent than sushi restaurants. Luongo is a 4000 square foot home in Shaugnessy, that has been listed for 6 months at a 3.5 million dollar price point.
This is what always gets me about those talking heads who like to claim that there’s "no market" for Roberto Luongo. It’s probably fair to characterize the market as soft (otherwise Luongo would’ve been traded already, and Nick Bjugstad would’ve been Canucks Army’s number one prospect in the top-20) but the "no market" lark is unhinged.
That Luongo hasn’t been moved yet reflects the fact that Vancouver’s asking price is too high if their goal is to sell on Luongo immediately. But in hockey trades, and on the real estate market, all you ever really need is one person to like the asset enough to meet your demands. So far this summer, the Canucks haven’t found that. It has nothing to do with the CBA, and everything to do with their asking price.
But here’s the rub: the Canucks aren’t a homeowner looking to liquidate an asset, buy cheap elsewhere, and retire. As they’ve repeatedly said, there is no urgency on their end. Even as the CBA expires, and even as next season begins – Luongo and Schneider are both professional enough that the Canucks can afford to wait to get the right price, from the right buyer.
Yes, Luongo will have to approve any trade, but even on that end the Canucks hold a fair bit of the leverage. It’s pretty well known that Luongo would prefer to play in Miami, but I’d bet that being an every day starter in the NHL is higher on his priority list than playing for his old Panthers club is.