Those were the days.

The amount of teams that Mike Gillis has neared a deal with for Roberto Luongo is up to three, if my count is correct, after Aaron Portzline discussed the possibility of Luongo ending up, in all places, Chicago.

If a Luongo deal happens this summer, I doubt it will come with too much lead-up. The reason for this is that Gillis isn’t a conventional hockey man. A lot of people who have been inside the business as long as the Vancouver Canucks general manager are hockey lifers who formed the same bonds and friendships for their years in hockey.

Gillis isn’t like that. Gillis was a former first round pick who couldn’t hack it as a player, battling injuries and limited ice time for the better part of his 246 career games. He put his family first, quit hockey, went to law school and wound up back in the business as a player agent.

He’s the man who brought down Alan Eagleson. Only a few people remember him as Bobby Holik’s agent the summer that Glen Sather signed Holik to a 5-year, $45M deal. That was the maddest hockey contract of them all and a symbol of National Hockey League excess heading into the 2004-05 lockout.

He doesn’t work in convention, and he isn’t friends with the same people in the media business as the others. HIs relationship with the press isn’t necessarily toxic, but the man rarely tips his hand. This is seemingly why a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs this weekend didn’t happen despite intense levels of speculation. You never know how close managers are in negotiations, but Gillis sat back, relaxed, and told the assembled media that the trade market is sure to be there as the summer progresses. He hasn’t made the decision on him yet.

Let’s be clear. No team that buys on Roberto Luongo is getting a guaranteed star goaltender for the next ten years of his contract. That contract acts as the single greatest deterrent to picking up one of the best goaltenders hockey.

Concerns about Luongo’s composure or mental toughness may be legitimate, but no goaltender has ever faced the peaks and valleys that Luongo has had during his “big game” career. Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals and a key overtime against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Championship-clinching game remain some of the best performances.

But he follows up performances like that with efforts from Games 3, 4 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, wherein he posted a .772 save percentage in three starts, culling his team’s chances to take a chokehold position in the final series.

Oddly enough, for a player who can play through the highest of highs and lowest of lows, his two biggest games: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and the gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics, were two decidedly average performances.

Still, the goaltender has a higher quality start rate than the average goaltender, putting his teams in position to win more games. Unfortunately, he also posts more games with a save percentage of below 85%, cutting his team’s chances. Since his explosion onto the scene at the 1999 World Junior championships where he played lights-out and brought Canada to the gold medal game, he’s been a goalkeeper that has been talked about endlessly, even as he floundered for years as a Florida Panther.

He came off a horribly deflating playoff run and kept up his strong regular season performance. He had the fourth best even strength save percentage among goaltenders who made 50 or more starts this season, finishing just ahead of even Pekka Rinne and Tim Thomas.

Gillis and Luongo make an odd pairing. One man looks for closed-door efficiency, his famous moments withering in anonymity in the boardroom, while another is a polarizing figure, one who is simultaneously the best and worst goalie in the game, depending on who you ask.

If you’re Luongo, this needs to happen. Him and Rick Nash are the two sexiest names available on the NHL trade block this summer and wherever he is, people will discuss him. Absent of another long playoff run over the rest of his career, he will be forever judged by 24 games in the 2011 playoffs. No matter what he does for the rest of his career, getting a good return for Luongo could be the defining moment of Gillis’ career as an executive.

But I’m not convinced a deal is close, and I’m not convinced that we’ll know about it until the press releases are drawn up. Gillis is more than willing to take his time. He will let the allure of three or four years of spectacular goaltending become too much for other teams to resist, and knows that the cost of a lengthy deal at a high cap hit right now won’t compel teams to give up a good prospect or roster player or two for the man.

If Gillis respected convention, there would be Luongo sweaters available for purchase in Maple Leaf Square this morning. Getting the right deal, not just any deal for the sake of making a deal, is what matters.

Comments (23)

  1. Hey, look this guy Gilles is an idiot. the fact of the matter is Loungo is a choke artist. He is like Payton Manning of the NFL great on paper but when it comes down to crunch time. GAG! We have Reimer and Scrivens What we need is Nash, then our team is complete.

    • We don’t need Nash….

    • lol your an idiot.

    • Right, buddy. Peyton Manning has at least won an NFL Championship so calling him a choke artist doesn’t really stand. Maybe next time you should use a better example. How about: Sundin, Alfredsson, or to stick with football, Marino?
      Also, our team is complete after acquiring Nash? You’re an idiot.

      • yeah , really peyton manning a choke artist, kinda of a really stupid example there buddy, a guy who has a ring, has the best 4th quarter comeback ratio in the game, but he is a choke artist, man learn your sports b4 you go on your rants that make no sense at all. lol, and Nash coming to T.o, which i would love too see, but sorry no way its gonna happen. Go get luo and leafland will be fine.

    • If you call a 2 time president’s trophy winner, 1 game away froma stanley cup, a olypmpic gold medalist a choke artist , then sign me up to choke. Luongo is by far one of the top 5 goltenders in the NHL today, so all you Canuck fans stop crying because your precious little twins fail to show up when the pressure is on. Don’t blame Luo. Wherever he end’s up, and please god let it be in Toronto, I promise he will show all you critic’s who he really is , a number 1 goalie who will get his cup within the next 3 to 5 years.

    • Really, Reimer and Scrivens is your answer to the leafs problems, lol, omg do you have any clue about what it takes to win a cup, Reimer showed us his true colors last year, yes Scrivens took the marlies to the calder cup finals, so did the goalie here in St. John’s with the jets farm team having a stellar year, so does that mean that the jets are gonna drop pavelic and play him next year. Man , if the leafs do not get a vet. goalie whether it be Luo or not , they need a Goalie, a center and 2 solid scoring lines to complete the puzzle just to get in the playoffs. I am a die hard leafs fan but even I know the difference in trusting those 2 goalies to get any success done this coming year.

  2. The leafs have no need for Nash without first landing a number 1 center. Loungo is the key piece to add this off season. What do cup winning teams all have in common? They have 2 great scoring lines, but most importantly they have 2 really good centers, 2 d-men that are quality sucking up important minutes and a goalie to make the big saves. Most people think his contract is really bad, however because he signed before he was 35, the current nhlpa contract from my understanding releases his money from the cap if he retired. Loungo is awesome and it’s the best for the franchise in my opinion to bring him in!

  3. Vancouver plays a better defensive game when Schneider is in net, because they trust Luongo so much, I believe it’s a big mistake on the Canucks part giving up on Lou.

  4. The Leafs will not get Luongo; you think Burke shied away from Jeff Carter cause of his contract, but would be willing to take on Luongo’s mess? Anyone who thinks the Leafs are getting Bobby Lu is delusional, and has been reading far too much Eklund.

  5. ll you T dot peeps are stuck on stupid cause ur reading the Sun newspaper too much. Look Reimer was awesome till that jamoke from Mtl. gave him a head shot. I’m not saying luongo is no good, it’s the 10 yr contract DUDES! rEIMER WILL NOT NEED too work so hard if were scoring goals. OK no Nash what about Patrik Kane. It don’t matter who or what . The only Blockbuster is NASH. and hes a Toronto boy

  6. As for the two scoring lines WHAT THE FUCK YOU THINK J.V.R. represents. The cup is not a stacked team of major contracts, a cup team is building a fucken crew. Wake up and go with Heart, that takes one to the game

    • i agree, i love the jvr trade, finally burke did something and went out and got the power forard they so desperatly needed, but he is not going to be the lord almighty savour for the leafs by no means, especially when he gets hurt, which mark my words he will. We still need some work to do, we have alot of great talent down in our farm system, which gives burke some cards to play with, just hope he plays them right this time .

  7. 1st of all i live in NFLD., so i don’t read the sun, 2nd the leafs were one of the highest scoring teams last year, so there goes that theory, problem was neither goalie could stop a beach ball, and that hit was just an excuse , although yes it did shake him up , but good goalies recover from that which reimer so called from your toronto sun says never did. Whatever, if the leafs do not sign a decent expereinced goalie, this season will play out just like the last 8 years have , with me being all ecited during the 1st month or two, then disapinted as usual when they go on one of there 2 month slumps and miss the playoffs again. Please prove me wrong leafs.

  8. One more thing to close you haters mouths, Toronto media needs to slow the fuck down and start supporting your Leafs. We have a sikk team of young and upcoming. our team is in,the goalie syndrom is over, we got rid of the Lobster or what you peeps call the monster is otta here, next is get rid of that midget Kadri for that scoring noise ur talkin bout and all of a sudden we have three power lines.

  9. Look bro That Buffalo goalie got hit also and Buffalo fell just like a leaf in the fall, since he has more expierince in the game he recovered better. I;m tellin you Remier is the real deal and a number 1 goalie

    • that right there shows me you have no clue, that buffalo goalie, ya mean ryan miller, one of the best in the game for the past 5 years, ahahahahah, oh my

  10. Roberto Luongo is reportedly not willing to waive his no-trade clause to head to Toronto or Chicago.

    That could change, but if it doesn’t, that might tie the Vancouver Canucks hands. The Toronto Maple Leafs are believed to be the team most interested in Luongo’s services. At the same time, if this report is true, then it should greatly increase the odds that the Leafs are going to attempt to bolster their goaltending through the free agent market………this was just sent to me from a source.

  11. Taz how does glue taste and is it a staple in your diet? The leafs are going no where with the tending in house. They need a number one center big time and a goalie. Burke misses the boat this off season and it is another year out of the playoffs. That might cost him his job!

    • Shawn i hate to admit it, but you are so right, not sure who this dude taz is or what hes smokin , but whatever it is i would love to have some the way he is thinkin.

  12. booo- on- go is leaky when big games happen, mentally washed up, overpaid and over promoted by canuckian media, and didnt provide what the sedin sisters needed when they nee3ded it… but then again… the sisters were kind of weak for boo-on-go too… ok ok… just keep boo on go out of chitown and leaf land. the p[rice financially is ridiculous, and what would the canuckleosers want anyway?? five first rounders, kessell, reimer, colbourne?? probably… the idiots. bouongo… will NEVER win a cup.

  13. When Luongo came here, it was all “he’s got the regular season stats but he’s never been in the playoffs.” First season, he was insanely good in goalie duel with Dallas/Turco/Tippett, and only guy other than Burrows who even showed up against Anaheim.

    Couple of losses to Chicago, the knock on him was he can’t get outta the second round. Everyone said, he’ll never get past the second round, he hasn’t got it. Next season, goes to the Finals.

    Now it’s he can’t win the big games, he never won the finals. What does it freaking take for this guy? He’s never gotten any credit at all. Even if he wins the Cup next season (whenever that may be) people will say, “well he’s been playing all this time and he only won one Cup and a gold medal? What a choker. Those teams were great, they did all the work!”

    Gotta take the Luongo criticism with a grain of salt. This season was an outlier, all kinds of weird things happened in the playoffs. Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Chicago, Detroit all out in the first round! Canucks will sign Schneider, sit on their goalies until the CBA situation is resolved. No need to be hasty here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *