Luongo’s offseason got a bit more complicated as yesterday, he announced the firing of his agent, Gilles Lupien, the mastermind behind the 12 year contract to the now 34-year-old goaltender of the Vancouver Canucks. He hired JP Barry and Pat Brisson, two very big names in the world of legal representation within hockey.
The timing of this along with the whole summer of events has been all but ordinary. After a full season of being told he would be likely be traded, Luongo finished the 2012-13 campaign on the bench. He was shopped at the trade deadline and again after the playoffs up until the draft. GM Mike Gillis trades Cory Schneider at the draft to New Jersey which once again put Luongo in a precarious situation. We have yet to hear from the Montreal native publicly since the trade.
Just one day after the Canucks annual ‘Summer Summit’ where top Canucks brass hold their State of the Union to season ticket holders, the agent change announcement comes. Interesting for timing given that Gillis had to answer questions on his lone starting goaltender and let the spin doctor in him come out. Of course he was going to tell loyal season ticket holders that everything was fine.
Deep down, we know things are tenuous to say the least but here’s why this change of agents really means nothing and why he will be back with the Vancouver Canucks this fall:
1. His Contract Sucks and His Agents Can’t ‘Un-Suck’ it
Luongo’s contract still exists and he still will be paid $6.7 million a year for the next 5 years before that amount decreases. New agents will not be able to change it. It is what it is. You can’t fault him for signing it. We all would have signed it too.
Gillis has tried hard to trade Luongo. The teams that might have wanted him were scared of the contract and the Canucks were not willing to pay for much of the contract. We know that this was the situation that Dave Nonis in Toronto faced and he balked. Luongo will be back in Vancouver in September simply because he can’t be moved elsewhere. Noone else wants him and his agents won’t help get him somewhere else because of that contract.
2. Luongo Wants To Play…Bad
It is no surprise that Roberto Luongo has a competitive streak to him. He always has wanted to be the best and aims for exactly that. In his first interview following the trade from Florida to Vancouver in 2006, Luongo was asked by the TEAM 1040 why he chose the #1 as his jersey number. His response? Because that was what he was – number one.
He is a competitor. Let’s not forget that he was just named to Team Canada’s Orientation Camp roster among a slate of solid, ordinary goaltenders, none of whom stand out from the rest. You KNOW he will be gunning for that #1 goalie spot to defend that 2010 gold medal again. If he wants to achieve this, he will have to play and because he can’t and will not be traded, playing for the Vancouver Canucks in 2013-14 gets him on that path.
3. Sitting Out Would Be Damaging
If Luongo’s new agents are brought on to just get him to sit out the 2013-14 season, I would question the decision to bring them in. UNLESS, that is what Luongo wants. Given his competitive nature and anything he has said in the last year, he wants to play. Period.
Sitting out would obviously be bad for the Canucks. After Luongo, next in line is Joacim Eriksson and after that, Eddie Lack. Not exactly household names there.
Sitting out would look bad on Luongo. He is generally very well liked in Vancouver. He has been the face of this team for the most part since he joined the Canucks. I don’t think he would want to leave Vancouver on these terms.
It is interesting to note that the Canucks announced at their Summit that they would finally be retiring the number of the ‘Russian Rocket’ Pavel Bure. Fans are generally accepting of Bure despite how he left. Now, how he left Vancouver is very relevant. From what we know, then GM Pat Quinn had told Bure that he would be traded. But Quinn did not pull the trigger throughout the entire 1997-98 season. Bure scored 51 goals that year. After a whole season of being told he would be traded and then not being traded, Bure took action and sat out the 1998-99 season until his departure. Sound like a familiar situation?
That is just food for thought. I don’t see Luongo leaving this offseason and I see the Canucks being forced to buy him out during the next offseason. Tough times for Canucks fans. You’ll get through it.