Dispatches from a Goaltending Controversy: Mike Liut Edition

Photo Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

On Monday, Cory Schneider’s agent Mike Liut spoke with Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun about the endlessly controversial situation in Vancouver’s crease. To these eyes, Liut’s comments come across as restrained, though it’s clear that Cory Schneider (and his agent) would prefer that the twenty-seven year old American goaltender not have to go ten games between starts too frequently this season.

Read on past the jump.

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Let’s begin with the meat of Mike Liut’s comments to Brad Ziemer:

"Our concern is we were hoping that this would be the year that Cory would play 75 per cent of the games," Liut said in a phone interview Monday from his Michigan office. 

"We are only interested in resolution, we are not going to get into the finger-pointing game and to that end you have to take a step back and you have to give them latitude to make a business decision."…

So pretty standard stuff, and every bit of it to do with playing time. That’s a sentiment that got reiterated again later in the interview too:

"If [Luongo and Schneider] are both there for the entire season, and it’s a 48-game season, and Roberto plays 40 games, that’s a disaster," Liut said. "That’s an extreme and I don’t think that’s going to happen, but certainly the sooner the better."

It’s completely unsurprising that Cory Schneider’s agent is anxious to have this crease conundrum resolved so that his client can play more regularly. However short of an "extreme" situation in which Schneider only starts 20% of Vancouver’s games, it doesn’t sound like Liut is going to throw a tantrum or lob any serious grenades Vancouver’s way.

Liut also, and this is important I think, reiterated that Luongo’s continued presence in blue, white and green didn’t blindside him (or presumably the client that he advises):

[Luongo’s continued presence[ was within the realm of possibility for a variety of reasons, one of which is trading a player of Roberto’s stature is never an easy trade because of the consideration of what you are expecting to come back," Liut said Monday. "He’s an elite player in the league. Then there’s another layer with his contract and yet another layer with the new collective bargaining agreement … It’s just not an easy contract to trade. I think it’s doable, but it isn’t an easy trade. So am I surprised? I am too pragmatic to be surprised. I kind of subscribe to the best laid plans (go awry) adage, you know."

Finally, based on Mike Gillis’ comments over the past several months, I still don’t think the Canucks are seriously exploring the possibility of moving Cory Schneider. That’s an opinion that, for now, Liut seems to share:

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Liut added that he has heard nothing to suggest that the Canucks could possibly be shopping Schneider.

"I haven’t had that conversation with them, but 10 months ago when all this started that was within the realm of possibility and I can assure you that whatever happens between now and the end of whenever this is resolved, nothing will surprise me," he said.

I’d describe Mike Liut’s comments (and Brad Ziemer’s treatment of them) as completely fair and above board. They’re not even inconvenient for Vancouver’s management team, really. Cory Schneider doesn’t want to ride the pine for weeks on end this season, not when he’s paid his dues and signed the sort of contract a team gives out to a bluechip young starting goaltender. 

If these frustrations are shared by Cory Schneider, and I have no doubt that they are, I think that’s completely understandable. Hockey players don’t have long careers, and Cory Schneider is already 27 (and he’s self-aware and business savvy to boot). He’s been waiting to prove himself as a starter for a long-time, and he’s getting a bit of a raw deal in that he won’t get that chance this season – or at least, that chance will continue to be impeded by the presence of the second best goaltender in the NHL.

But again, this is about playing time and nothing else. Schneider’s camp is understandably eager to have the situation resolved, and are disappointed that he’s spent the past ten days riding pine, but they understand what’s going on and aren’t blind-sided by how this has played out. 

Mike Gillis appeared on the Team1040 today, by the way, and address Mike Liut’s comments in the following manner:

Laurence talked to him yesterday… [not sure how it was portrayed in the press]… but they didn’t share that sense of frustration with us at all. Cory is a bright young guy and these are very unique circumstances – having a long lockout and a shortened season – and he knows our level of commitment to him, he knows how much we believe in him. And I know the next time he gets into the net he’s not going to want to give it up just like Roberto. So, you know, because of the circumstances we all face in this kind of season, I think the competition is healthy, I think it’s good. I know I think those guys respect and like one another and I don’t think it’s an issue at all inside our dressing room or with our team.

Hilariously, that’s only the first 75% of Mike Gillis’ answer, since he then pivoted to a sales pitch where he explained that the situation gets so much media attention because of how desirable an asset Roberto Luongo is. Gillis, the best.

So the situation remains in stasis: the Canucks still believe that Cory Schneider is their goalie of the future, Cory Schneider would prefer not to sit for extended periods of time but doesn’t feel lied to by the organization or anything like that, and everyone would like to see this whole thing get resolved quickly. Ho hum, just another day on the "goatending controversy front" where lots is said, and nothing really changes!

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The only note I might make is that, contrary to Luongo and Schneider’s public reputations – Luongo’s of putting his foot in his mouth, Schneider’s of always saying the exact right thing – I’m not sure this bit of public relations on Mike Liut’s part was all that well orchestrated or timed. Maybe it was necessary, what with Schneider having been on the shelf since January 27th and all, or maybe Brad Ziemer just went into his rolodex and called Mike Liut up. Regardless, the contrast between Schneider’s agent whining about his client’s ice-time, and Roberto Luongo’s heart-warming comments to a Victoria woman battling cancer isn’t too flattering for Schneider.

  • “Cory Schneider is already 27 (and he’s self-aware and business savvy to boot). He’s been waiting to prove himself as a starter for a long-time, and he’s getting a bit of a raw deal in that he won’t get that chance this season – or at least, that chance will continue to be impeded by the presence of the second best goaltender in the NHL.”

    Now, we can argue all day about the possible claims of Mikka Kiprusoff, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Miller and Carey Price. But surely, SURELY, at least one of Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist would bristle at your comments.

  • @JDM Jonathan Quick has posted an above average save percentage in nearly half of his seasons. Luongo does it every year. Only guy who can quibble with it is Tim Thomas but I don’t think he gets internet in his Colorado bunker.