The Vancouver Canucks arguably had the biggest name available for trade on April 3rd. After the Calgary Flames traded Jarome Iginla, it was Roberto Luongo who took most of the spotlight during the trade deadline day. One could make the case that it’s been Luongo’s name that have dominated the trade rumors since the announcement came that the NHL lockout was finally over.
Leading up to the deadline the Toronto Maple Leafs were said to be in on Luongo, as we had heard for most of the season. Miikka Kiprusoff of the Flames was said to be available in the days prior to yesterday which then shifted the Leafs interest. Suddenly the steep asking price for Luongo could be ignored and then Dave Nonis tried to convince Kiprusoff to come to Toronto.
Alas that plan fell through and Nonis once again set his sites on Luongo and according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, the two sides were close to a deal that would have seen Bobby Lou wearing Maple Leaf colors.
LeBrun states that a deal was so close that the Canucks pulled Luongo from their Wednesday morning practice early so he could waive his no-trade clause.
But Dave Nonis of the Leafs was not willing to meet the asking price that Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis was seeking for his former number one netminder; a price of two-second round draft picks and goaltender Ben Scrivens according to LeBrun.
The ESPN analyst then mentions that had the Vancouver Canucks been willing to eat some of Luongo’s remaining salary for what feels like the next fifty years, a deal may have gotten done.
But the Canucks never moved Luongo yesterday and now they are saddled with that dark cloud that is the battle over the crease. Corey Schneider appears to have won the starting job outright, forcing Luongo and his $5.33 million dollar cap hit to the bench where he is clearly not happy.
When addressing the media after learning that he would be staying in Vancouver for the rest of this year, Luongo did not mince his words. When asked why he was still a member of the Canucks he replied “because my contract sucks.”
Some advice for Mike Gillis – clean out your ears and listen to your unhappy netminder.
How hard would it have been for the Canucks to retain some of Luongo’s salary which may have been enough for Nonis to cough up Scrivens and the two picks.
The Canucks now have this dark, lingering storyline that will hover them like a nasty hangover from drinking cheap red wine. It will be that painful for the remainder of the regular season and will get twice as bad in the playoffs.
Clearly Luongo is tired of talking about it, let alone sick of playing backup. Earlier in the year when Luongo was getting the consecutive starts it was Schneider who voiced his displeasure through the media about not having regular playing time.
If Mike Gillis truly wanted to improve his hockey club at this year’s trade deadline, he would have found a way to move Roberto Luongo. Get rid of the questions that will hound this team as they move forward and focus on playing hockey, winning games and securing the division title.
It is likely that Luongo will be dealt this summer, then again we thought that last summer. But for the time being the Canucks still have the highest paid back up in what is surely to be the league’s history and the distraction will follow suit. Have fun trying to focus on the playoffs when the majority of the questions will revolve around their netminders. Let’s hope that Schneider doesn’t struggle in the first few games or the debate will really be on.