Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - The goaltending merry-go-round for the
Vancouver Canucks may have ended on Sunday, but there is still plenty of
fallout for the club.
The most pressing matter for the team now is to repair the relationship with
their previously deposed and suddenly again No. 1 netminder Roberto Luongo.
It's an issue the team will especially want to settle particularly before the
opening of free agency on Friday.
On Sunday at the NHL Draft, the Canucks finally put to rest all the goaltending
drama that had enveloped the team for the past year when they dealt Cory
Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the ninth overall pick in the draft.
They used it to take forward Bo Horvat of the OHL's London Knights.
It was a move that caught many around the league off-guard given the time and
energy the Canucks spent last season investing in Schneider as their starting
netminder after anointing him as their main man between the pipes just over a
The trade essentially serves as a reset button for the Canucks. They now turn
back to the 34-year-old Luongo between the pipes minus the safety net of having
a very capable and proven second netminder in Schneider.
But what the move also has done is set back the strides the Canucks have made
since the arrival of general manager Mike Gillis in terms of improving the
team's reputation and turning Vancouver into a top destination for players.
It's hard to imagine there aren't potential free agents around the league who
after seeing everything that has gone on in Vancouver over the last year or so
have taken the Canucks off their list of potential teams.
This isn't so much an indictment of the Canucks roster that, even after the
departure of Schneider, should still be considered one of the more talent-laden
ones in the league and certainly one that still deserves to be in the
conversation as far as being a Stanley Cup contender. Rather, it's an
indication of the hit the team has taken over the last year or so when it comes
to dealing with player loyalty.
It's true the NHL is big business and the bottom line for each team is to
pursue winning at all costs, even if that means causing a few hurt feelings
along the way. Just look at the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, who
dispatched one of their key players in Dave Bolland - he scored the Cup-
winning goal - to Toronto at the draft less than a week after capturing the
title because they knew they wouldn't be able to fit his salary under the new
But while both the Bolland and Schneider moves were motivated by business, the
optics of the Schneider trade looks significantly worse because the Canucks
spent the past year seemingly making him a big part of their future.
Schneider isn't the only player who has been caught up in the Canucks' sudden
course correction. Vancouver acknowledged this past weekend it had investigated
moving blue-liner Alexander Edler, knowing his no-trade clause was set to kick
on July 1.
Edler inked a six-year contract extension back in January that, despite making
him the highest paid defenseman on the team, was widely acknowledged to be
less-than-market value for him if he were to hit unrestricted free agency.
The fact the Canucks were actively looking to ship out a key player from their
team in order to get themselves out of a contract that, at the time it was
signed, both parties agreed to in good faith certainly has to make players
question whether the team will be less than truthful in their future dealings
But that's where the successfully mending Luongo relationship can be a
Whether the Canucks like it or not, assuming Luongo doesn't choose to make life
even more difficult for the them by sitting out, the 2010 Olympic gold medal
winner will play a significant role in helping the team attract top-end talent
to the team from now until the end of his contract.
It means that not only will players be watching the way he performs on the ice
to gauge whether the Canucks continue to be a legitimate championship
contender, but they'll also be closely observing his relationship with team
management to decide whether or not they can potentially negotiate with the
Canucks in good faith.
You would have to think if the Canucks can smooth things over with Luongo after
this whole debacle that they would be adept to handle any player personnel
issue that might arise.
If they can't, then it could mean some harsh times for the Canucks and their
fan base in the years to come.
The Sports Network