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What Olympics mean for Luongo, Canucks

Jul 22, 2013, 9:01 AM EST

Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of Canada adjusts his helmet during the ice hockey Men's Qualification Playoff game between Germany and Canada on day 12 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at UBC Thunderbird Arena on February 23, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.
(February 22, 2010 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Since the Vancouver Canucks decided to reverse their goaltending strategy and keep Roberto Luongo instead of Cory Schneider, there’s been speculation about how Luongo must feel. The Canucks made it clear that they wanted to get rid of him and it looked like he had embraced that, but it never happened.

There’s even been some speculation that he might refuse to report to training camp rather than go through another season with the Vancouver Canucks, but that seems unlikely for a number of reasons. One of them is that he still reportedly has ambitions about playing in the 2014 Winter Olympics and while you might argue that he shouldn’t make Team Canada’s roster, that will be a certainty if he holds out this season.

So he’s likely to play and will be motivated as he competes Carey Price, Mike Smith, Corey Crawford, Braden Holtby, and perhaps others like James Reimer for a roster spot.

But there’s also a potential drawback for Vancouver, as Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province speculates:

The bad news would then become the fatigue factor, something that’s already been thoroughly examined with respect to the Sedin twins but ignored in the case of Luongo, because nobody thought he’d be in a Canucks uniform this season.

There are all sorts of statistics which indicate a goalie who plays huge amounts during the season tends not to win the Cup. Jonathan Quick had 69 starts in 2012 and won but he definitely bucked the trend, which only Martin Brodeur seems to have managed in any sort of long-term way. And when the Kings won, Quick was nine years younger than Luongo will be next April.

Canucks fans will remember that Luongo struggled after returning from Team Canada’s 2010 Gold Medal victory and ended up with a 3.23 GAA and .895 save percentage in the 2010 playoffs. And that was during an Olympics that were held in Vancouver. With Sochi, Russia hosting next year, there will be the potential for jet lag that disrupts a player’s rhythm on top of that fatigue.

Of course, Luongo isn’t the only player that faces this concern, but he’s a particularly noteworthy example because the Canucks will likely be counting on him to start in the vast majority of games over the inexperienced Eddie Lack.

  1. blomfeld - Jul 22, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

    The bottom line is that Luongo is ‘not’ coming back to Vancouver and therefore he will ‘not’ be playing for Canada in Sochi next year. And you can’t really blame the man either, as who in their right mind would want to set out for the Caucuses in the middle of winter? … I know that Napoleon and Army Group ‘South’ gave it a go once, though it didn’t turn out so well if I recall correctly? Anyway, Luongo’s already done his part for Canada back in 2010 and therefore he should now just hunker down there in Florida and let Gillis’ blood pressure go through the roof … which it will, along with the Aquilini’s. By September I can see an ‘announcement’ being made where the Canucks will agree to waive Luongo’s contract and thus set him free. And I suspect that a small ‘parting gift’ of no less than US $5,000,00.00 will also be included …

    ** breaking news from Sweden … Sedin brothers now also not answering phone ? **

    • iHeartHockey31 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      It would be great for both parties if the Canucks COULD waive his contract however the league could view it as a potential violation of the salary cap. One of the reasons his contract extends for so many years was to offset the heavily front-loaded salary during the first few years of the contract. If the contract were waived [even in agreement to both parties] it means the Canucks would have been able to pay out a larger salary to Luongo than his actual cap hit was.

      That being said, the league should give consideration to allowing the mutual agreement contract waiver for 2 reasons [1] the contract was signed at a time when the cap hit was expected to continue to increase, not experience a decline and [2] the early retirement cap hit rule was only in effect for players that were over 35 when Luongo signed his contract [not impacted]. The new CBA changed this rule & applied it to contracts signed under the previous CBA. Vancouver should petition the league to waive his contract, under the claim they would not have offered him those terms if the ‘cap-hit after retirement’ had been applicable to Luongo at that time. In this particular case, since the player himself is also willing to have the contract waived, the team isn’t attempting to short-change the player, so the NHLPA should back Vancouver’s request for the waiving of the contract.

      There is potential for backlash from other teams forced to buy out long contracts however in most of those cases, the player did not want their contract waived. The league would have to write it off as a one-off case due to the number of years on the contract & possibly a force Vancouver a fine and [minimal] cap hit punishment for having circumvented the cap by paying out more money over the previous years.

      The other alternative would be if Luongo didn’t appear in training camp in mutual agreement with the Canucks that doing so would void his contract, leaving him free to sign with another team. If it’s [unofficially] but publically known that his not appearing in training camp was a legal maneuver to have the contract mutually voided, I don’t think other teams or even the public would view it as his being unprofessional. Especially if the Canucks immediately voided the contract after 1 day and there was [unofficially] another team willing to re-sign him. Although neither side could say that’s what happened, I think as long as other teams knew what was going on, it wouldn’t reflect poorly on Luongo if missing training camp was done as a legal maneuver & he knew he’d be released from his contract in time to join another team.

      The question is whether or not having his contract voided for ‘not appearing at training camp’ would affect his eligibility to play for another NHL team, if it doesn’t than they’ll have to go the route of petitioning the league for another means of mutually voiding the contract.

      I don’t think the Canucks can just ‘waive’ the contract [even with mutual agreement] & without prior approval from the league as it puts them into a salary cap violation for the previous years. Although the new CBA prevents such heavily from loaded contracts, I don’t think the league wants to set a precedence for paying out salaries higher than the cap & then ‘mutually voiding’ remaining years on a contract.

      • blomfeld - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        THANK YOU COUNSELOR … ALLOW ME TO RETORT

        That’s a thoughtful and well written piece friend and I concur with the ‘spirit’ of analysis … good show, jolly good show ! :) Anyone who’s studied just ‘basic’ Contract Law will know that as long as ‘all’ signing parties are in mutual agreement, then there’s virtually nothing which can’t be done to such contract, including but not limited to it’s termination. The bottom line as I see it is as follows:

        a) Luongo is not coming back to Vancouver and nor does he want to

        b) the Aquilini’s are desperate to free themselves of the 46 mil still owed to him

        c) a stalemate between Luongo and the Aqulini’s is ‘not’ in the best interests of the NHL

        Considering these three facts, it doesn’t take much to see what’s likely to now occur. Perhaps my use of the word ‘waive’ above wasn’t the most appropriate term. But one way or the other, I’m convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Luongo and the Canucks are now fast approaching a ‘mutual’ parting of ways.

        ** special video selection for iHearthockey31 and comrade Dadoun **

  2. yvrmike - Jul 22, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Are you seriously comparing Luongo to James Reimer You cant be serious its not even close
    Competition for Luongo is Carey Price, Mike Smith, Corey Crawford.
    If Luongo fails to report to the Canucks – guess what they don’t have to pay him a dime. Luongo plays in Europe for a year and comes back to the NHL the following year. Hmm as if he really needs the money!

  3. blackhawks2010 - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    Why is Loungo even invited to camp? He’s not even a starter in the NHL.

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