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.