Strombabble: “You’d Be Surprised About the Number of Teams That Have Inquired About Our Goalies”

On Tuesday it was announced that Rogers Sportsnet and the Canucks have agreed to a mammoth, ten year extension of their multi-platform broadcast agreement (you can read the press release from Sportsnet here). To talk about the deal and provide grist for the mill, Mike Gillis appeared on the HockeyCentral radio and television program with Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean and discussed, among other things: John Garrett’s fondness for chicken wings, the evolution of Roberto Luongo, compliance buyouts and of course: the Canucks’ goaltending situation.

Read on past the jump.

The interview began with Mike Gillis making fun of John Garrett for eating all of the Chicken Wings on the club’s charter flights, while also expressing his fondness for the Sportsnet team in Vancouver. Asked pointedly if he had a similar fondness for the Sportsnet team in Toronto, Gillis deadpanned "I love hearing opinions out of Toronto." Absolute gold.

Once pleasantries were briefly exchanged, Mike Gillis was promptly asked for an update on the club’s goaltending situation. Mostly he did the typical Mike Gillis thing, which for those of you unfamiliar with the General Manager’s stylings, is characterized by Vancouver’s General Manager saying nothing substantive in a totally fascinating way. Here’s some choice transcribed quotes:

On the luxury of having two elite goaltenders:

"The discussion about the goaltending is interesting… When you know the character of the two guys involved, the decisions for us are made much easier. No one gave these guys enough credit for the people they are, how hard they work, how much they support each other. We knew going in that if there wasn’t a deal that makes sense, we were going to keep both of them in a shortened season and see how things played out.

When you can put a guy in net every night that gives you a chance to win every game, it’s a luxury that gets pretty hard to give up. You get used to it after a while… We knew those two guys if they got off to a good start would keep us in games we might otherwise not be in because of injuries… "

So it sounds like Mike Gillis is well aware that the Canucks have been dependent on their goaltending in the early going. He also makes sure to point out that having both Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo on the roster is an advantage for the Canucks, not a distraction (as some dummies seemed to think it might be).

On whether or not the descending salary cap impacts his team’s ability to pay two goaltenders 9.3 million (against the cap) going forward:

I think to do the right thing by these guys changes if we move into the offseason. You now we do a lot of cap planning well in advance, and have multiple scenarios we could use to keep both of them, but I really think there will come a time where the right thing for both of them is to only have one, and to develop another young goalie. It’ll be the right thing for us and it’s going be the right thing for them. So I think that’s at the forefront of our thought process.

We’ve managed to work out the money in the past under a cap scenario and we can do it in the future. That’s not the pressure for me, the pressure is that we always do the right thing for our players. If we get to the summer with both of them here and we have the success that we hope to have I think then it’ll be time to do something."

Now, on the one hand, if you’re being cynical you probably laugh at this "I worry more about doing the right thing for my players as people, than the salary cap" quote and disregard it as complete nonsense. I tend to be cynical, but I actually think this quote was one of the more candid things that Mike Gillis said during the entire Hockey Central radio spot.

The essential context is understanding the "covenant" between the Canucks and their players, and also being aware of the extent to which Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo have both personally enabled Mike Gillis to take his time, and seek to properly maximize the return in any potential Roberto Luongo trade.

By signing an extension – even after Mike Gillis held onto Roberto Luongo at the 2012 NHL Draft – without testing the market as a restricted free-agent, Cory Schneider showed the Canucks organization extraordinary loyalty. Roberto Luongo has done the same. He’s never gone on the record and criticized the organization for their handling of him this past summer, he never tied Mike Gillis’ hands by saying he’d only accept a trade to Florida, and he’s been a good soldier on and off the ice throughout this entire ordeal.

I’m pretty convinced that part of the reason the Canucks have managed to retain their core players, most of them for significantly less than market vaue, is that they value this sort of thing. As well they should. Though maybe this comment just indicates that Mike Gillis employs Laurence Gilman, so the cap is never quite the concern that it might be for less savvy management teams.

Moving on, Mike Gillis was asked briefly about the prospect of buying out Roberto Luongo’s contract. His answer will probably not surprise you in the slightest:

Absolutely not. We’ve never even had the discussion. It’s never even entered into his thought process.

The Roberto Luongo buyout nonsense isn’t something we’ve ever found compelling

Finally, Mike Gillis talked about whether negotiations concerning Roberto Luongo were ongoing, emphasized the lack of urgency for Vancouver on this front, and dropped a mini-bomb (that isn’t actually much of anything at all):

"In this business, and Doug can attest to this, you talk to other General Managers all the time – you talk about different possiblities all the time. One out of every two-hundred might actually get some traction and actually work out. In this case, there are teams that have consistently called us to talk about this situation and you know we’re listening. Right now everythings going great to us, and I’m not sure I see the need to upset something unless we have a legitimate opportunity to improve our team in another way."


"So is that mystery team still involved."

"You’d be surprised about the number of teams that have inquired about our goalies."

As Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean were quick to note, "our goalies" is potentially a sexy quote. Except it’s pretty consistent with what Mike Gillis has been saying all along for the past seven months, and it was only a week ago that Mike Gillis publicly affirmed the Canucks’ "commitment" to Cory Schneider going forward. Schneider remains the younger of the two goaltenders, and is arguably the more technically sound as well. Frankly, I don’t think there’s really much of anything to see here (at least in terms of the "our goalies" nugget).

Listen to the full interview here

  • JCDavies

    1. Important question? Would Canucks retain part of Lui’s salary to get deal for the assets they want/need?IMO this opens the door to more teams?

    2. This notion some media & the team is floating that Cory is the better technical goalie is a red herring. Goaltending IS NOT brain surgery.
    Using this criteria Hasek would have never made NHL. Nether would have Timmy T. & even Marty is not know for his mechanics.

    In addition, Lui as the ‘inferior’ technical goaltender, has put up on of the best es% in last 10 years. Take the bet right now that Cory’s ‘technical prowess’ doesn’t amount to him surpassing this. In addition, if Cory was better than Lui he would have been in the NHL in his early 20’s playing 70 games like Lu. The fact is Cory has had a psychological issue to deal with and he has had to improve his technique because his instincts weren’t as good as other ‘elite’ goalies.
    In the end goalies are paid for one reason to stop the puck. It doesn’t matter how.

    My guess is this is another code word by the media because deep down they ‘like’ Cory. he’s a great guy. He’s an underdog type.
    Lui is a rock star. An alpha male. There has been an obvious envy/bias from media towards his incredible talent.

  • I truly do think that Schneider’s technique is modestly better. Luongo himself has said he’s adopted a whole bunch of it this past summer and added it to his game. Wasn’t a shot at Luongo at all, who I agree: is a total rock star.

    • antro

      It doesn’t matter that his technique is better.
      And, IF he was a can’t miss guy from age 20 teams would have offered MG the moon for him. The team could have strengthened the team & hypothetically won a cup. The fact they didn’t
      tells us that a) Cory has developed late, b) Other teams don’t hold Cory in as high esteem as
      Vancouver media does.

  • I’m sure a lot of teams have called about Schneider, but I’m sure these were also very short phone conversations.

    Gillis: “Hello Mike here.”

    Talon: “Hi Mike it’s Dale from Florida I’m calling about Cor…”

    Gillis’ phone: DING! ******ringtone********

  • antro

    I don’t know, saying “I really think there will come a time where the right thing for both of them is to only have one, and to develop another young goalie”–sounds to me like he might be re-orienting his rhetoric. Maybe a trade of Schneider is becoming the more realistic possibility (although I’m not sure it’s a good idea).

    On the Schneider – Luongo comparison: I think Luongo reads the play as well as anyone in the game.

    @ dan: I haven’t seen any evidence that Schneider has psychological issues…he was drafted by a team that had Luongo. It would take a while to win the starter’s job.

  • antro

    @antro It is an interesting thought, particularly with Gillis pluralizing the word goaltender today and Mike Liut’s comments to the media last weekend. He wouldn’t be a good GM if he wasn’t listening to offers on both of them so he could be very quietly repositioning his stance on trading Schneider. It would be a lot easier to get fair value for him due to his contract, and if Gillis got an offer he couldn’t refuse then who knows what would happen?

    I still think it’s Lu who goes, but if Gallagher starts writing articles about Schneider’s playing time I’ll be concerned…

    • I’m remembering that series.

      Always good when you go from the starter (Cloutier) to the backup (Hedberg?) and then to a promising rookie to be your saviour (Auld), all over the course of a seven game series.

      Back then, we had a goalie problem. Now, we have a goalie surplus. 🙂

    • JCDavies

      and @Thomas Drance.

      If the Canucks were to retain part of Lui’s salary in a trade do you know how this would affect the cap going forward? Have you guys (or anybody else) written about this yet?

  • Alright, lol, that above comment got formatted strangely. I had some bare html in there that got commented. You might want to take a look at that and make sure there’s no XSS vulnerabilities, there. Anyway, I was basically just wondering why you link to google to get to internal links instead of doing it directly.