There aren’t very many ways that this Roberto Luongo saga can end. For the second consecutive year, questions surrounding Roberto’s future will be the centre of discussion at Canucks training camp, but for now, it appears he’ll be there.
Turns out, Luongo won’t go the “walk away from the team and have my contract voided and lose the remaining $40-million on my deal” route. New agent Pat Brisson yesterday confirmed that Luongo would at least be at camp, and for the foreseeable future, Luongo is the Vancouver Canucks’ starting goalie.
That caused a bit of a ripple online, especially as Luongo got back into the Twitter game:
Hey @eddielack I’m warning you now! Don’t get any ideas this upcoming season!!! Got it???
— Strombone (@strombone1) July 25, 2013
In other Luongo news, the embattled goaltender’s former agent Gilles Lupien took a call from Tamarack, Ontario to talk to Globe and Mail reporter Roy MacGregor. Lupien had some harsh words for Mike Gillis, criticizing the way that Gillis handled the Luongo situation:
“It’s okay to say you’re going to trade someone,” he says, “ but then trade him. If I want to sell my car, and I want to get a good price for it, I don’t say my car is always in the garage. There’s something wrong with it. No one will want to buy it. You either say your car is the best car you ever had – or you say nothing.”
It would be ridiculous to suggest that Gillis hasn’t mishandled this thing from Day 1, and the Canucks goaltender controversy goes all the way back to Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in 2012 against the Los Angeles Kings, when then-coach Alain Vigneault all but decided that down 0-2 in the series, a chance of starting goaltenders was necessary.
At the draft that year, Gillis suggested he was the problem, and the reason a deal was being held up. For close to a year, Gillis kept talking about some Mystery Team that had the prerequisite need for a starting goaltender and sufficient salary cap space and financial resources, despite no such team existing in the NHL. Trading Cory Schneider never seemed to be an option for whatever reason, despite that being the eventual course of action.
In a funky twist of fate, the only person involved with the Luongo situation to see negative financial ramifications is Gilles Lupien, for whatever reason. We can be happy knowing that we have potentially nine more years of Luongo, and nine more training camps speculating about his future. It was mishandled from the start and reflects poorly upon Gillis and Laurence Gilman who tried to sell their car through the media and simply didn’t. The addition of Mystery Teams certainly didn’t help.
But there are a lot of moving pieces. I’m still not convinced cap recapture is what caused Luongo to become untradeable, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ change of personnel and philosophical shift didn’t help, even though I was never convinced that the Canucks and Maple Leafs were good trading partners. There’s a lot to ruminate about this process, but we have a lot of time to do that.
As for the “walk away” route, it could still happen next season. The Canucks also still have one compliance buy-out they can use next offseason, so there are still ways it can end. With the team’s public unwillingness to deal Schneider, the process looks remarkably botched from the outside, and it was never fair to let a human being suffer in that regard.