Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis appears poised to enter this season with star goaltender Roberto Luongo – the subject of endless trade rumours for the past seven months or so – still on the roster. In an appearance on the Team 1040 morning show hosted by Scott Rintoul and Vancouver Province beat-writer Jason Botchford, Mike Gillis was asked by Botchford to directly address whether or not the team was in fact "asking for too much" in return for the league’s second best goaltender and his monster life-time contract.
Not one to mince words or dance around the issue, Gillis responded with guns blazing and took a shot at the Maple Leafs and what he obviously sees as their manipulation of the sports media in the Toronto market:
"Fair value is different for every team that you speak to because they have different players, they have different concerns and different contractual issues that play into what they have available that you might want. The notion that we were asking for too much was floated in the Toronto media by a team that was extremely interested in acquiring Roberto and were using every means possible to try and force us to do something that we didn’t think was right. That’s nothing new in this business and it’s’ not the type of pressure that I’m going to succumb too."
Thems fighting words! Read on past the jump.
Lots of credit here belongs to Jason Botchford, who along with Matt Sekeres, is the Vancouver sports radio personality we can count on to press the subject when he’s got a guy like Mike Gillis dropping solid gold. Botch followed up Gillis’ answer on the "too much" question by asking the Canucks President and General Manger to address the notion that " a potential deal with Toronto" is "dead." What did Gillis think of that?
"I don’t care, there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to happen in the first two weeks of this season. If you start giving all-star players away you’ll be at the bottom of this league in a hurry. So we have two really good goalies, I don’t know what’s going to happen with others team – players might not play well, there may be injuries that they have at that position which may change the landscape. But as it sits today, we need to get something in return that is going to help our team and we’re not in the business of just helping other teams so…
I’m comfortable with both these guys starting the season here, I’ll be comfortable if we finish the season with them. If something happens and comes our way that allows us to improve, then we’re going to do it. And it’s all subject to Luongo wanting to go to that city. So, it is a little bit more complicated than people like to think but we feel very comfortable with where we sit today with our goalies."
Translation: "have fun with Reimer and Scrivens Mr. Nonis, I’m just going to sit back and watch Luongo and Schneider both post .930 even-strength save percentages until someone comes to their senses, remembers how ridiculously good Luongo is, and offers me something helpful for his services."
Ultimately, I tend to think that Mike Gillis is playing with fire here and that the same things that could alter the trade market landscape in Vancouver’s favour (Gillis specifically mentioned injury and lacklustre performances by other team’s goaltenders) could also work against the Canucks should Luongo falter in the early going, or get hurt. But I do appreciate him calling a spade a spade, mocking the mittenstringers in the Toronto sports media and I admire his unyielding insistence (a clear euphemism for: stubbornness) on the subject of getting "fair value" for one of the league’s best goaltender.
Whether Gillis’ patient gambit works out for the Canucks long-term, or not, I really have no idea and we won’t be able to analyze that until we see specifically what the return looks like. But from a hockey-ops paradigm, it certainly does make more sense to keep Roberto Luongo around this season, than to settle for a return in which Tyler Bozak (and his expiring deal) is the best piece coming the other way.