Roberto Luongo is sick of this shit (probably).
Image uncredited via UpMagazine.
This week Mike Gillis sat down with Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun, who has been producing some extremely interesting and unique sports writing over the past couple of weeks, for an extended conversation, "that was set up before the Canucks’ two opening-weekend losses." Cole pulled some really interesting context out of Gillis on a wide variety of subjects: the Canucks’ scouting apparatus, the impact of injuries, the club’s lack of high-end prospects in the pipe-line, tanking and of course the Luongo trade.
Amidst the candid din, alas, it’s this sexy quote that’s getting all of the attention this morning and it’s not hard to see why:
We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have — and it’s not who anybody thinks it is — and so we have to wait. (But) we’ve been offered packages that don’t fit what our plan is, what we need.”
Potential deal in place! Mystery team! Why, that reads like HockeyyInsiderr’s "trade market" slash fiction Twitter account in early July!
Let’s get into it briefly on the other side of the jump.
Over the course of the past seven months I have obnoxiously covered every possible angle of the Luongo-trade saga. In part this was because every time I attached "Strombabble" to a post it would guarantee several thousand readers, but that editorial decision was partly informed by a more honest sentiment as well. I’ve found that when I’m blogging as often as I am at this site, it’s important to stay on top of topics and write regularly as they develop. It’s like, if you play around with a concept long enough and explore every conceivable nook and cranny: you’ll usuaully come out of that process with a better understanding of the structure of the thing, its limitations and the issues at play.
Except on the Luongo trade, the more I’ve written about it, the more I’ve felt like I am completely lost in the woods. Eventually lines like: "how the fuck should I know?" began to creep into the posts and I figured, fuck it, I’m going to just let this play out and try not to write about it so often. Then Gillis gives Cole a quote like that, and obviously we need to jump in.
The first thing to examine is whether or not we should read that Mike Gillis quote as an exceptionally candid one or an example of a team executive negotiating through the media (we should note that Mike Gillis described leveraging the media to put "pressure" on potential trading partners as "nothing new in this business" just last week!).
The thing is, who is Mike Gillis negotiating against or putting pressure on in this quote? Maybe he’s "baiting" the likes of Dave Tallon or Dave Nonis but that seems like a stretch. Really he’s just pointing to a "mystery team" (go mystery team!) that is only identified as "not who anybody thinks it is." So that gives me pause because clearly this isn’t, say, Mike Gillis calling up the Vancouver equivalent of Damien Cox and leaking the details of Toronto’s most recent ask so it can be savaged in the press.
Also, for what it’s worth, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons says he can "confirm" that the "deal in place" isn’t with the Maple Leafs:
Gillis says he has trade in place for Luongo re @rcamcole barring some shoes to drop and I can confirm deal he talks about isn’t with Leafs.
— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) January 22, 2013
Frankly, I think we can read Gillis’ comments as candid, but in saying that I’d remind you that Mike Gillis has a particular flair for being "candid" without actually revealing much of anything. I’d say this quote qualifies. It’s sexy and all, but in no way does it help us see the forest (or the trees for that matter) on the Luongo trade saga, and trying to read between the lines here is a fools errand.
There’s some more revealing nuggets, however, on drafting, player development and the impact of star veteran players on the "culture" of an organization if you check out Cam Cole’s partial transcript of the conversation over at the Vancouver Sun site.