Writer Thomas Wolfe titled one of his novels “You Can’t Go Home Again.” If the rumors are to be believed, Roberto Luongo is trying to disprove that notion.
A few days after the Vancouver Canucks were knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings, the netminder said he would waive his no-trade clause if it was necessary for the team. Now speculation is rife that Luongo, who is under contract for the next 10 years, may not have been the “team player” he professed to be. One source is claiming that Luongo has refused to lift his no-movement provision for possible trades to at least two teams: Toronto and Chicago.
Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke complained that the price for Bobby Lu was too high. “I’m not going to overpay to upgrade at that position,” Burke told the media. “I’m not happy with what’s being asked.”
Gillis confirmed the two men seemed to be of two minds regarding Luongo. “In my mind, there’s probably 15 legitimate No. 1 goalies in the world and he’s one of them. … Contrary to what people may think or describe, there’s a tremendous amount of interest in players that are high-end players in this league. Finding a fit is occasionally more challenging, but there’s definitely a fit to be found.”
Perhaps Gillis is thinking a fit can be found in Florida; he had better hope so, because if the scuttlebutt is correct, it’s the only place Luongo will consider now. Panthers GM Dale Tallon admits he contacted Gillis to “kick the tires” but walked away echoing Burke’s sentiment that Gillis wants too much in exchange for the enigmatic goaltender.
Many observers have said that Luongo’s hefty contract and cap hit of just over $5 million per season (for the next seven seasons) is limiting Gillis’s ability to make a deal. Nonetheless, Gillis is not budging on his demands, whatever they may be. To this point, there are no takers. If any of this remotely resembles what’s really going on, it sounds like three executives are playing a game of poker and they’re all trying to outbluff each other.
What is certain is that Cory Schneider, who has become the Canucks’ top goaltender, is a restricted free agent. As such, during the period between July 1-5 any team can approach the 27-year-old with an offer sheet — if a team really wanted to play havoc with Vancouver’s bottom line, a sizeable proposal could be submitted.
The Canucks would likely match the offer, as is their right, but that would create an untenable budgetary issue along with a situation where the Canucks have two expensive No. 1 goalies. Gillis needs to do something soon if he wants to avoid those outcomes.