Roberto Luongo, one of the best goaltenders to ever play for the Canucks — and one of its most polarizing figures since the glory days of “Russian Rocket” Pavel Bure — gave a radio interview on Friday where he left little doubt as to his future in Vancouver. Essentially, he feels he doesn’t have one there.
He did hedge by saying “never say never,” but it’s become obvious that both sides need a change. Bobby Lu said he’s had “six great years” on the West Coast, and his only regret is not winning a Stanley Cup while being the Canucks’ top puck-stopper. However, he did use the past tense to describe his situation with the club, and has made it as clear as he can that while he appreciated his time here, a switch of scenery is warranted.
This isn’t really news: a few days after the Canucks were knocked out of the first round in five games by the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings, Luongo stated publicly that he would not stand in the way of a trade, even agreeing to waive his no-trade clause if it helped the club, because Cory Schneider has now become the go-to guy in the Vancouver net.
A cynic might say that Luongo consented to the interview to put pressure on Canucks general manager Mike Gillis to soften his stance. Both Toronto GM Brian Burke and Florida GM Dale Tallon had complained that the price for Luongo was too high — they didn’t point any fingers or name names, but you don’t have to read between the lines too much here. They want Gillis to bend more or to be more reasonable, depending on which side of the conversation you’re on.
One of the more interesting ideas making the rounds right now is for Luongo to go to Florida in return for Jose Theodore. It would require Theodore to waive his own no-trade clause, and the rumor is that’s not going to happen because apparently he has a history with Canucks goaltending coach Roland Melanson.
That’s too bad, because that might make it tougher for Luongo to go home again. He’s married to a woman from South Florida and they have their primary residence in the area; despite public assurances that he would be OK with a move to a team like the Chicago Blackhawks, it doesn’t take a mind reader to determine which destination he would prefer.
No one expects a general manager to reveal publicly exactly what is going on behind the scenes or what the bottom-line return is for a particular asset, but Gillis has said out loud that he’s in no hurry to make a deal for Luongo. Given that Schneider has now been signed to a three-year, $12-million deal, it makes sense to move Luongo. What he’ll be moved for, and where, are still very much open questions.