It’s been a long seven months for Leaf fans. Last season came to the same end that so many seasons before it had and we were forced to spend our days dreaming of next season while reading the LA Kings’ Twitter account and wishing it was ours (or jumping on the Jays’ bandwagon. Which went super great). As usual, the only respite we had from our misery was desperately searching for rumors for anything resembling hope. Thankfully, Twitter exists so this hunt has become easier than ever. Every time a rumor came down the pipeline (the pipeline is my name for Bob McKenzie’s mouth) I frantically began searching the Internet to see what it’s Eklund rating was. I demand at least four Es for my rumors! Eklund, you are my spirit guide.
Making fun of idiots aside (not you, Bob), there is a certain disposition that Leaf fans possess that allows us to take rumors, if not more seriously, at least with a slightly smaller grain of salt than the rest of the league just because we’re so desperate for the next big thing. Or the next small thing. Or anything. It’s been a rough decade.
Obviously, the rumor that has been the most persistant for the last little while has been the idea of really pretty good goalie Roberto Luongo filling the Ed Belfour-sized hole in our hearts. This morning, the series of tubes was set aflutter by that rumor willing itself back to life and pulled us back into the clutches of desperation. Or hope. I honestly can’t tell the difference anymore. As Pass It To Bulis’ Harrison Mooney expertly explained earlier today (seriously, if you want qualified analysis of this, stop reading this and go read that. Oh, wait. Do not stop reading this), Sportsnet’s John Shannon was patient zero for this rumor saying on Hockey Central that the Leafs have a deal in place with the Canucks to send Luongo to our fair city once/if this whole lockout thing comes to end. Though, considering today’s news, this probably isn’t something we have to worry about. Yet here we are.
Now, before we all get excited about the prospect of Luongo in blue and white, let’s remember that this was said on a show that not only employs Nick Kypreos but actually puts him in their commercials and everything. Moreover, let’s keep in mind that, as Mooney points out, Canucks GM Mike Gillis has said that this is not necessarily true. However, Gillis’ denial came in the guise of a Bettman-like salad of words. Observe.
I’m not sure why John would say that because that’s certainly not the case, but everyone is entitled to speculate on whatever they’d like to speculate on. We’ve moved very slowly on any discussion Roberto Luongo, we’ll trade him when we get what we want for him or we won’t trade him. And Either way that’s fine with me. You know, if we can do something that’s gonna help us and move our team forward in different areas, we’re certainly going to consider it, but that hasn’t occurred yet so I’m not quite sure why that would be said.
Now, because we are in the midst of the lockout, and good Lord am I starved for non-CBA things to talk about, let’s take some idle speculation and talk about it like it is anything approaching truth.
My opinion? This would be awesome.
Yes, there’s still a lot to learn about this potential deal – mainly what would be going the other way (if it doesn’t involve the words Jake or Gardiner I can’t see myself having a problem with it) - but I have long been a defender of the idea that Roberto Luongo is exactly what the Leafs need. Luongo would only cost the Leafs $6.7 million (“only,” he says like he’s a Romney) for the next six seasons before his contract begins to decrease. This is not an exorbant price for a potentially elite goalie. And, if the NHL’s CBA offer is accepted (gah, no, bad Goldsbie, no more CBA talk), the Leafs wouldn’t even be on the hook for the cap hit if Roberto decides to call it quits before his 12-year contract reaches its end.
Let’s say, for argument’s/realism’s sake, that the deal goes down and Luongo turns out to be terrible (and this is Toronto so it’s totally possible). Would the Leafs really be any worse off than they are now? What with James Reimer and his 2011-12 save percentage of .900 and GAA of 3.10? Concussed or not (and he was totally concussed), those aren’t the numbers of a goalie who can lead his team to the playoffs even if you believe he’s a better goalie than those numbers indicate (which I do). I will grant you that Luongo isn’t exactly going to be poor any time soon and that “LUUU” chant is kind of bullshit but the odds of Luongo being legitimately terrible are actually pretty slim. In Luongo’s six years in Vancouver, the highest GAA that he posted was a 2.57. Only one of those years did he lose more than 25 games (29 in 2007-8) and the loss totals of the other 5 years are 22, 13, 22, 15, 14.
Now, obviously the Canucks are a much better team than the Leafs and when Luongo was a youngster on a pretty terrible Panthers team his win-loss record skewed the other way pretty consistantly (only in his last year with the team did he have a win-loss record above .500). However, on those teams his GAA never rose above 3.00 (though it came damn close in 2003-04 when he finished with a 2.97) and the guy has never posted a save percentage less than .908 in the NHL. At the very least he becomes a viable fantasy goalie again. Remember when his save totals were the best thing ever when he was on the Panthers? Oh man, I’m justfying this with fantasy hockey? Desperation, thy name is Jake.
As for the knock on Luongo that he can’t perform in the playoffs? Let’s see the Leafs actually make the god damn postseason before we worry about how our players will or won’t perform.
Of course, this could all be totally moot and just be another thing that gets us excited and ends in bourbon. That tends to happen pretty consistantly ’round these parts. But, let’s not forget, this wasn’t said on some rumor blog. This was said on television. And TV’s always right.
Are you hugging the TV?