Strombabble: The Point Men and the Waiver Hammer

It would be against our nature to let a firecracker Jason Botchford take, like this one from Tuesday evening summing up the Luongo-trade situation, pass us by without comment. Botch is in midseason form with some of his one-liners here – in particular I got a hearty laugh out of his droll play on Bob McKenzie’s hilarious "biological clock" formulation from Monday night. What I’m interested in discussing briefly here however, is two fresh bits of information concerning the "point men" within the Canucks and the Maple Leafs organization’s who might ultimately drive this potential deal to completion, and the prospect of waiving Luongo.

On Nonis and Gilman’s emergence as primaries in the negotiations between the Canucks and Leafs, here’s how Botch put it:

These two sides have been going back and forth for six months on this trade. We may soon find out who finally blinks first.

But while all of the attention will be on the two strong-willed bosses who will never be pals, it’s more likely their assistant general managers — the Canucks’ Laurence Gilman and the Leafs’ Dave Nonis — who get the deal done. If it gets done.

There’s a couple of things worth breaking down in those two paragraphs. The first thing, and this may not particularly surprise you, is that the trade has taken the form of an extended negotiation between the two sides. Secondly, there’s the notion that former Canucks General Manager Dave Nonis and current Canucks Assistant General Manager Laurence Gilman are the probable primaries in ongoing negotiations between the two sides.

So if Botch is right, it suggests that negotiations have devolved over the course of the process and surrogates have stepped up to handle some of the haggling on both sides.

In thinking about it, I really find it extremely odd for any lingering animosity between Mike Gillis and Brian Burke to render either well seasoned General Manager unable to make a deal with their counterpart. I mean sure, no matter what business you’re in it’s always easier to make a deal with someone you’re be willing to play a round of golf or have a pint with, than with someone you think is a pompous jerk. But in this case the need on both sides is so patently obvious (as indicated by the fact that the organization’s have been going back and forth over the price for months) that any personal distaste between the two General Managers really shouldn’t matter. If the NHLPA and the NHL can come to an agreement, you’d have to think Burke and Gillis can leave their pettiness at the door and figure it out.

But maybe they can’t, in which case I don’t think it reflects very well on Mike Gillis or Brian Burke. I’d also suspect that this sort of chatter about Mike Gillis delegating arguably the biggest trade negotiation of his career to his left-hand man, could lead to a lot criticism from the media and fans if the bounty the Canucks extract from Toronto is underwhelming…

Moving on to the other curious suggestion in Botchford’s take, is his rebuke to the "Luongo wouldn’t accept a trade to Toronto" rumour. For me, Luongo’s "green light" comment settled that lingering spot of uncertainty. But Botch’s explanation of who holds the leverage here is worth looking at:

And then there’s Luongo, 33, who has 10 more years on his contract. He would have loved a trade to Florida, but realized long ago he may hold a no-trade clause, but he doesn’t hold the hammer. That belongs to the Canucks, which makes any suggestion Luongo is continuing to strong-arm a deal to the Panthers absurd. If ever he did try to win by forcing that hand, the Canucks would play theirs, and waive him. After which, Luongo would be picked up on waivers, most likely by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Doesn’t sound like a fun house for Lucky Lu, does it?

It’s not going to get to that. At least, we don’t think.

I’m not sure if I’ve explicitly seen that Luongo could be waived if he were to block Gillis’ path before, but that would be a sad way for this saga to end. Amusingly there was some chatter on Sportsnet that Roberto Luongo wouldn’t even be claimed on waivers but that’s absurd (if teams are willing to spill half-decent assets to acquire Luongo, someone will clearly be willing to pick him and his contract up for free). Then again, any discussion about Luongo on waivers really does belong to the realm of the absurd. This may be Vancouver’s "nuclear option," but I think we can safely invoke the mutually assured destruction theory here. If this is how this situation plays out, I’ll risk hurting my back bending over to pick my jaw up off the floor.

In summary, it’s possible that animosity between the two clubs could take Burke and Gillis out of the equation, leaving Dave Nonis (the man who first brought Luongo to Vancouver) and Laurence Gilman to drive a Luongo deal to fruition. Could such a situation hold up any deal between the two sides? Conceivably, but what do I know? 

Also, we can add "Luongo is waived" to our wide-range of potential outcomes here, but man, that’s hard to imagine going down. All in all, I’m finding it hard to shake the feeling that a Luongo trade could very well be further delayed… 

Once again, I’d recommend you read Jason Botchford’s take in full