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PHT’s top 13 of ’13: Vancouver’s goaltending soap opera

Dec 25, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT

luongoschneidergetty Getty Images

It captivated fans of professional hockey for months — in fact, longer than an entire year.

The Vancouver Canucks goaltending saga that began in April of 2012 — when Cory Schneider was put into the starting role ahead of Roberto Luongo — came to a dramatic end, well, once the 2013-14 regular season got underway in October.

The controversy itself, though, ended at the 2013 NHL Draft, when the Canucks dealt Schneider to the New Jersey Devils in return for the ninth overall pick, which turned into Bo Horvat.

The day before the draft, news broke that Schneider, a former first-round pick of the Canucks back in 2004, was indeed available on the trade market.

For the better part of a year, rumors swirled that Luongo, tied into a 12-year, $64 million contract, was going to be traded. He was not.

Canucks general manager Mike Gillis had exhausted all attempts to move Luongo, who had a no-trade clause in his contract. On trade deadline day in April, Luongo was suddenly taken off the ice in the waning minutes of practice to Gillis’ office inside Rogers Arena to waive his no-trade clause.

Speculation was rampant, but no deal was ever completed.

It led Luongo to give an emotionally charged press conference later in the afternoon in which he uttered the now famous phrase, “my contract sucks.”

Gillis tried to throw water on Luongo’s comments after, when he met with the inquiring minds.

“When you have a day like this where your whole life could be turned upside down, then you speak to you guys (media) right after, I think there’s an opportunity for things to be said that in the clear light of day might not be reflective of how he really feels,” Gillis told reporters.

At the end of Vancouver’s season, when the Canucks were swept out of the playoffs by the San Jose Sharks in the opening round, Gillis said it was “unlikely” Luongo would be back with the team, as another off-season approached.

Luongo is back, although he did leave Sunday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets with a lower-body injury and is currently listed as day-to-day.

But it took a considerable effort from Gillis and even new head coach John Tortorella to prompt Luongo to come back to Vancouver, a city he thought he would no longer be calling home.

“We have a really good relationship. It isn’t strained or adversarial at all. I think he’s going to be fine. He’s a consummate professional,” said Gillis over the summer. “Roberto will be our No. 1 goalie. I feel very optimistic about it.”

Luongo did finally make his decision. He announced it in a televised interview with James Duthie of the NHL on TSN panel just prior to Canada’s Olympic orientation camp in Calgary.

“I … moved on personally,” Luongo said during the interview.

The 34-year-old Luongo currently has a record of 16-9-6, a goals-against average of 2.24 and a save percentage of .920. If healthy, he’s also in the running for Canada’s 2014 men’s Olympic ice hockey team.

  1. sharksfan754 - Dec 25, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    Luongo is an excellent goalie the only issue is the length of his contract and it’s front loaded money.

  2. blomfeld - Dec 25, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    “the saga came to a dramatic end” ?

    With all due respect, why then is Luongo’s False Creek condo still on the market? Here’s the write-up from the realtor’s website:

    “Direct southwest water views from the floor to ceiling windows and covered outdoor terraces. High ceilings, wonderful room proportions, air conditioned, customized 2,673 sq ft 2 bedroom plus family room waterfront residence. Hardwood floors, superbly equipped kitchen with pantry, wine fridge, his and hers wardrobe rooms, private 2 car garage with storage. Outstanding amenities and attentive concierge service. Located directly on the seawall within easy walking distance to the dining and shopping conveniences of Yaletown. Very special and superb oceanfront lifestyle”

    So either the asking price is too high (ie: it was originally 4.2 mil) or something is amiss with this notion that the saga ‘came to a dramatic end’ ? Nonetheless, I remain convinced that Luongo will leave for Florida ‘sometime’ during the coming 2014 calendar year.

    • chicagobtech - Dec 26, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      People buy and sell property all of the time. People with wealth will often own more than one piece of property in a given area. That an athlete who has been paid a significant amount of money would have property on the market does not mean that player is going to get traded. It may simply mean that they are trying to use that money to make more money for when they retire.

  3. canada2014gold - Dec 26, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Either way I’m fine with it, he’s good but not great. I’m just as comfortable with lack. Either Vancouver is dam fine at developing goalies or Luongo is just making these guys look amazing with his on/off play.

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