Roberto Luongo doesn’t like his contract.
And Hockey Night in Canada’s Glenn Healy thinks the onus shouldn’t only be on the Vancouver Canucks goalie for signing the 12-year, $64-million US deal prior to the 2010 campaign.
During the Hotstove Tonight segment during Saturday night’s broadcast, Healy said the Vancouver organization is to blame for its inability to deal the beleaguered goalie ahead of last Wednesday’s trade deadline.
"This is all on the Vancouver Canucks," said Healy, "And until the management of Vancouver can admit that they have a problem with this contract, the contract is going to be impossible to be moved. And Roberto Luongo in his press conference was pretty clear what he thought of the contract."
The 34-year-old veteran lamented to reporters that his deal "sucks" after the trade deadline came and went, and he was still wearing a Canucks sweater.
Going forward, Healy says it’s going to be even harder for general manager Mike Gillis to ship him to another squad.
"The issue then becomes unless [the Canucks] give [Luongo] away for nothing, which they don’t want to do, they can’t trade him unless they eat some of this money [on his deal]. The player and the value of the contract go together."
Luongo has been involved a goaltending flux all year, with rumours constantly swirling as to when and if he would get traded so teammate Cory Schneider — who Vancouver signed to a three-year, $12-million deal prior to this season — would be able to take over the starting reigns.
But now the team will have to wait if it wants to trade Luongo, whose contract carries a big $5.333 million annual cap hit compared to a much more manageable $4 million from Schneider’s deal.
Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman described why he thought one of the potential suitors for Luongo’s services — the Toronto Maple Leafs — couldn’t get a deal completed for the veteran.
He said the team lost out on landing Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and might have been looking for an option. But Friedman said their last-minute negotiations with the Canucks just couldn’t come to fruition.
"I don’t know if it ever got that far, I think there was always a deal on the table [for the Leafs to land Luongo]," Friedman said. "It was reported it was [Leafs goalie] Ben Scrivens and a couple of draft picks, and at the end the idea of [part of Luongo’s] contract being eaten came up, and the Canucks weren’t willing to do it and [the two teams] ran out of time [to complete a possible deal]."
Friedman said the team will have some important decisions to make this summer. He said he talked to some general managers around the NHL, who said the situation would need to be resolved sooner than later.
"I think the key thing now is, and I asked a few general managers, ‘how would you handle it if this was your situation?’" said Friedman. "And they said, ‘Well first of all, you have to tell [Luongo] now, ‘Hey it’s over, be ready to play because we may need you.’
"But the second thing they all said was, at the end of the season, Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks are going to [have to] sit down together and [Vancouver will have to tell him] ‘We need a written, signed list of where you’re willing to go, whether it’s one team or 29,’ and in exchange, Roberto Luongo would have to ask the Canucks, ‘I’m going to give you this, but you have to tell me and promise me you’ll plan to do it,' and that’s what going to have to happen."
As for Luongo getting emotional when he found out he’d still be with Vancouver for the foreseeable future? Hockey Night in Canada’s P.J. Stock understands.
"We’re all people at the end of the day," said Stock. "They all have emotions, and [Leafs goalie James] Reimer gets caught in that, and Roberto [Luongo] gets caught in that.
"You don’t say the right things at times and it comes back and haunts you, but we’re all humans. We all have the same feelings as a person making $35 million or a person making $200 dollars."