‘My contract sucks’, says Roberto Luongo after remaining a Canuck at the deadline

With less than 10 minutes until the trade deadline, Roberto Luongo was called off the ice by Canucks management, leading to rampant speculation that he was about to be traded. It turned out to be a massive false alarm, as the trade deadline came and went without a Luongo trade. In fact, the Canucks didn’t make any trades at the deadline, standing pat with their trade for Derek Roy the day before.

Considering the trade fervour in Vancouver, Luongo was naturally asked to speak to the media after practice and gave one of the most honest and intriguing pressers of all time.

The highlight: when asked why he thinks he hasn’t been traded yet, he chuckled and said, “My contract sucks.”

We’re not used to hearing that kind of honesty from hockey players in interviews. We’re used to canned responses, clichés and empty rhetoric. We’re used to hearing, “It is what it is.” When it comes to trade rumours, we’re used to athletes telling us that they “don’t pay attention” and “don’t read the papers.” Luongo’s presser was the exact opposite: it was honest, emotional, and real.

It started with the usual platitudes. “It’s nice to get past this point,” he said, “I think I can really focus now on one thing and that’s doing what I can do to help this team.” It didn’t stay there though, as his very next sentence revealed how tough this whole process has been on him.

“Obviously in the last couple weeks, things have been a little bit emotionally tough for me.” It’s easy to forget in all the hype of the trade deadline how stressful it must be for those on the trading block. For a short period of time, the people become commodities to be moved, acquired, and sold to the highest bidder. In fact, it’s incredibly impressive that Luongo was able to deal with this stressful time with humour, even mystifying his followers on Twitter the day before the deadline with a series of cryptic tweets featuring emojis.

“It’s weird, I’ve been pretty calm about the whole situation until, for some reason, yesterday in the late evening,” Luongo said, “I started getting weird feelings in my stomach — not that I had to go to the bathroom — just getting nervous.” Classic Funny Bob. Even while pouring his heart out, he can’t resist a poop joke.

It turned out that Luongo was only called off the ice at practice with 10 minutes to go before the deadline just in case a deal came in and Gillis and Gilman needed to ask him to waive his no trade clause right then and there.

When asked whether he was disappointed not to be traded, Luongo said, “I don’t think disappointment’s the right word. It’s been an emotional ride the last year and I think it’s more the unknown that has gotten to me more than anything else. I’m proud to be a Vancouver Canuck, I love it here, I love my teammates. It’s just a matter of the unknown and what the future holds; it’s something you try not to think about, but you do sometimes. I’m human and sometimes it gets to you.”

Luongo was blunt about his contract being the big impediment to a trade. “That’s what the problem is,” he said shortly after telling us the deal sucked. “Unfortunately, it’s a big factor in trading me and it’s probably why I’m still here.”

I’m honestly not sure if Luongo believes his contract sucks, or if that’s just what GMs around the league have told Mike Gillis. Personally, I’m still of the opinion that an elite goaltender like Luongo at a cap hit of $5.3 million is a pretty good deal. In fact, when asked what part of his contract “sucks,” Luongo laughed and replied, “I don’t know. You guys can do the analysis on that.”

But when asked if he would trade some of the money on his contract in order to get more playing time, he didn’t hesitate. “I’d scrap it if I could, right now.”

The other big news from the presser is that Luongo was never approached to officially waive his no trade clause at any point. There could be some room for semantics in what he said, however. He indicated that if he had taken a different approach — for instance if he hadn’t pushed for a trade to Florida, as rumoured — a trade could have been made earlier.

The most heartbreaking quote from the presser came near the end: “It’s a hit on your pride that teams aren’t willing to give up much.”

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60 comments

  1. Warpstone
    April 3, 2013

    Given there was little to replace the value of a competent (let alone elite) Goalie for the playoff run, I’m glad he’s still a Canuck. There were not many elite players in play. Yes, two good goalies is not maximum efficiency, but there are far worse problems to have.

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    • Wetcoaster
      April 3, 2013

      Efficiency and durability are often at odds. Is it efficient for aircraft to have redundent hydraulic lines and control systems? Not especially. Is it worth it? When you need a failsafe, you *really* need it.

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  2. Brent
    April 3, 2013

    Like you said, totally impressive presser. It was just oozing honesty. The guy is totally professional. Be sad when he finally goes.

    So can they renegotiate the contract from hell? I don’t think it is the annual cap hit, it is the length.

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  3. Carlo
    April 3, 2013

    Really feel bad for the guy. I’ll be a Lu fan for life and in spite of that I wanted him traded just to ease the burden on him and on our cap.

    Let’s give him something good to cheer about by winning the Cup, shall we?

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  4. Brent
    April 3, 2013

    Agree it was a totally impressive presser. It just oozed honesty. Lu is a complete professional. Be sad when he finally goes.

    So is it possible to renegotiate the contract from hell. I think the cap his is less of an issue than the length.

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    • Brent
      April 3, 2013

      Damn stupid web page server. Posting too quick message, post disappears, re-write, then post re-appears.

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  5. Dan
    April 3, 2013

    I was super happy to hear he hadn’t been traded, but I sure did feel terrible for being so happy when he was clearly the opposite. Seeing him like that made me realize how selfish I was wanting to keep Lu here.

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  6. mas
    April 3, 2013

    I think canucks fans can now dispell themselves completely that Lui’s contract is in any way a good one, especially when he trashes it himself so readily. They are going to have to buy him out, plain and simple.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 3, 2013

      That’s a misinterpretation: he doesn’t believe his contract sucks and he wasn’t trashing it. He was saying that other people around the league think his contract sucks and that’s what’s preventing the trade from happening. It’s easy to read or hear “My contract sucks” and think that’s what he’s saying, but in context he’s simply saying that the perception that his contract sucks is preventing a trade.

      There’s not a chance in hell that the Canucks buyout Luongo. None. Zero.

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      • Nick
        April 3, 2013

        Don’t buy it Daniel. Iain M’s article quotes Luongo as saying he wishes he could tear up the contract. That doesn’t sound like a man who is happy with his contract at all.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          April 3, 2013

          Again, context. He was asked if he would forego the money if it meant playing more. He says he’d tear up the contract in the context of the question he was asked. Because, y’know, he loves to play hockey and would rather play hockey than have money.

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      • Doop
        April 3, 2013

        <3

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      • mas
        April 3, 2013

        I don’t want to be snarky, but I think it’s a stretch to say that my reading “Lui is trashing his own contract” is a misrepresentation of Lui saying “My contract sucks” very plainly! What I saw in the presser, and I’m just a casual observer I realize that, was a man whose idea of himself as an athlete and as a NHL player is taking a beating, both by his own team and the NHL at large. His own team is trying to unload it.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          April 3, 2013

          His own team wouldn’t be trying to unload his contract if they didn’t have Schneider. They’d be thrilled to have Luongo signed at such a low cap hit.

          Again, Luongo was asked why he thinks he hasn’t been traded. He replied with candor, “My contract sucks.” But then, when asked how it sucked, he said “I don’t know.” It seemed perfectly clear to me that what is preventing Luongo from getting traded is everyone else thinking his contract sucks and that last quote about his pride seals it, for me. Luongo thinks he’s worth his contract and he’s worth giving up assets to acquire.

          But the money quote is “My contract sucks” and everyone’s going to see that out of context and think that Luongo hates his contract. The only thing he hates about it is that it’s preventing him from playing right now and he likes playing more than anything else. If I were Luongo, I would be pretty upset and baffled that teams would think that a $5.3 million cap hit was too much for an elite goaltender.

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          • Winsy
            April 3, 2013

            People are only seeing the quote that way because that’s how the media has written it in their headlines, including you guys. Most people don’t read the story and just want to comment, so don’t act all surprised when people interpret it that way. That’s exactly what the media wants people to think, to draw in the readers.

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          • James
            April 4, 2013

            The trouble is not the cap hit. But the TERM. If he was signed for 3-4 years, it’d be fine. But he isn’t. Don’t ignore or tiptoe around it.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          April 3, 2013

          It’s also important to note that Luongo doesn’t actually know about everything that goes on in trade negotiations, so his characterization of what is preventing him from being traded might not be entirely accurate.

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  7. Nick
    April 3, 2013

    Well … it’s official.

    The hockey world, including every GM in the league and virtually every fan, long ago concluded that Luongo’s deal was ridiculous and made him untradeable.

    Even Roberto has now admitted that his contract is terrible.

    That leaves Mike Gillis as the only person on the planet who will still argue that it was a good deal.

    A trade is likely, only if there is another Gillis out there.

    Maybe if he got canned here and got snapped up as a GM for another team, Gillis might swing a trade to take Luongo off the Canucks’ hands.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 3, 2013

      I think it’s awfully convenient for GMs around the league to think it’s a bad contract when they’re trying to acquire Luongo for peanuts. As soon as they have him on their team, they’ll crow about having an elite goaltender at a reasonable cap hit.

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      • Brent
        April 3, 2013

        Especially when they continue to give out these long term contracts.

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      • Nick
        April 3, 2013

        So you’re saying Luongo’s contract is a good one Daniel?

        You buy the reasonable cap hit argument, despite the fact that the hit will keep coming for 9 more years?

        And if you were a GM and you needed a goalie, you would have traded for Luongo?

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        • Daniel Wagner
          April 3, 2013

          If my team needed a goaltender, I’d trade for Luongo in a heartbeat. By the time Luongo’s deal expires, the salary cap will have gone up enough that a $5.3 million cap hit for a number one goaltender will seem quaint.

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          • Nick
            April 4, 2013

            I can respect your take on it.

            And perhaps we can agree that the contract only makes sense if Roberto is your #1.

            It’s a quite a gamble because Roberto may have already slipped out of the top 10, and will he even be a top 20 goalie for most of the ten years he’s locked up for?

            I’m finding this whole situation frustrating and disappointing because Roberto is a good guy … and I keep reading about how Gillis could have handled it better.

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  8. kenahora
    April 3, 2013

    One player does not a team make..!
    In hindsight, Roberto Luongo might have been selective and sensitive to the circus at hand…rather using the term…challenged…contract.

    However it’s a work in progress. You battle on …Key players have changed their potale codes….

    The Canucks have much to do and little to forget..!

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  9. Timmy Wong (@timmywong11)
    April 3, 2013

    I’d rather have 2 competent goalies than none (hi, Philly).

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    • ikillchicken
      April 3, 2013

      B..but…they traded for Mason! Lol.

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  10. Lucky
    April 3, 2013

    Saw the presser – and completely agree, total honesty. Heartbreaking to watch as well. He deserves to be playing as #1 somewhere. Glad he’s still a Canuck but not so much that he’s in this situation.

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  11. steveB
    April 3, 2013

    is there a link to Luongo’s press conference?
    I was too enthralled with the PITB chat thingie to switch the TV on and watch it.

    please work vansunsportsblogs server, please work Word Press :-\

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  12. Prophet
    April 3, 2013

    Luongo on his “I’d scrap it if I could, right now.”

    Hold on… why CAN’T he scrap his own contract? It’s a no-brainer that no GM in the league (including Gillis) would want to fork over $6.7M (with a $5.3M cap hit) for the next 5 years given the current market. If he were a UFA, he might get $5M max on a three year term. Would he seriously forego tens of millions just for a chance to be a starter again?

    Can’t any legal contract be dissolved as long as both parties are in mutual agreement?

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    • Amor de Cosmos
      April 3, 2013

      The NHLPA might not like that idea. Whether they could prevent or not is an interesting question though.

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      • Brent
        April 3, 2013

        I thought the same thing and did some research. They can not change it.

        http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=26366

        “Player contracts will not be renegotiated (upward or downward) during their term. Extensions may be negotiated but only in the final year of the contract and only if such extension is for an amount that can be accommodated in a Club’s upper limit for the current year or as computed for future years”

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      April 3, 2013

      In principle, yes, which is what happens in soccer all the time. But the NHLPA has a collective bargaining agreement, which changes things a fair bit (in all industries).

      In spite of collective bargaining, if he simply wanted to stop showing up for work, he’d be effectively “out” of his contract in that the Canucks would not longer be paying him, but he wouldn’t become a free agent under the CBA.

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  13. Eastern Dane
    April 3, 2013

    I was suuuuper happy he didn’t get traded – until he had that interview. I cried a little, laughed a little, then cried some more. My God Lu, what a roller coaster ride you have put me through. Glad he’s still here :) All he needs is to win the Cup and everyone will just shut up.

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  14. akiddd
    April 3, 2013

    Lou sure does seem like a nice guy. much nicer now than when he held a rookie gillis over a barrel and basically demanded the moon and got it.

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  15. Chris the Curmudgeon
    April 3, 2013

    Anyone else glad that train wreck in Edmonton wasn’t Lu’s last game as a Canuck? I’m certainly not one to praise Gillis for much, but I’m glad he didn’t let his hand get forced on this one.

    Having said that, there were players moved today that could’ve helped our team that others got for very low round draft picks. Jussi Jokinen for a conditional 7th rounder? Sullivan for a 7th rounder? Not perfect alternatives to be sure, but both are easily better than some of the plumbers in our lineup now.

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    • Brent
      April 3, 2013

      I wondered about that too. Maybe they were so focused on dealing Luongo they dropped the ball on some of the other ones. Glad they didn’t get Tores though, I can live without him on the team.

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  16. rvtBC
    April 3, 2013

    Look, the only reason why Luongo’s contract “sucks” is that the rules changed under the new CBA with punitive measures put into place to penalize long-term term, back-end diving contracts under which the player retires before the expiry of the contract AND the significant drop in the cap for next year. If those things had not taken place, then it’d be no issue trading Luongo and his $5.3m cap hit – not bad for an elite goalie.

    In hindsight, sure, we can all say how horrible the contract is. But that’s only with those changes to the CBA and drop in the cap. Maybe once the cap goes up in the following year or two, it’s not such a big deal. But, right now, it’s just the convergence of a number of factors that have really undercut Gillis’s ability to move Luongo and get something decent in return.

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    • Amor de Cosmos
      April 3, 2013

      There were a fair number of people who thought the contract was pretty bad at the time, I recall. And they included a few Canucks watchers.Some — not I — even predicted that a change in the CBA was predictable as a consequence.

      However this situation is down to Canucks management not wanting to live with the consequences of the deal they negotiated. If Schneider hadn’t emerged as a top flight goaltender this wouldn’t even be an issue. Luongo would still be the team’s #1 goalkeeper. But the club — and many fans — wanted the bright, shiny, new talent, rather than last year’s model. I love Schneider, and given a straight choice, on last year’s performance, I’d prefer him too. But it wasn’t a straight choice. GMMG had already committed big-time to Luongo, he should have stood by that and traded the kid. It was the fair thing to do, and — as it’s turning out — the right business decision too.

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    • tj
      April 4, 2013

      It does seem like the mythology of Bettman’s Revenge has indeed begun to play out. (Maybe I’m watching too much Game of Thrones…)

      http://www.canada.com/hockey/columnists/Luongo+Rule+shows+Bettman+pettiness/7792570/story.html

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  17. Lenny
    April 3, 2013

    Lu is candid when he is emotional. Remember the comment about Thomas should’ve stayed in his crease?

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  18. Tom 1040
    April 3, 2013

    Who did Raymond get traded to?

    Nevermind…..

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  19. akiddd
    April 4, 2013

    nope, he didn’t, didn’t he. i guess it’s something to do with him being a core player on the team. he’s been through a lot with his teammates. you don’t just trade that for some middling picks.

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    • Tom 1040
      April 4, 2013

      Indeed. Thought he would go for a center.

      I don’t like the trade though, nor do I like the fraud Gillis. That Luongo presser was ridiculous.

      Roy is a rental for 20 games, then lost to FA because of cap space, I would imagine.

      With Gillis’ drafting record, the 2nd rounder means basically nothing (let’s see what Niew…Niewuen…the Dallas GM does with it), but Connaughton (sic?) is a illustrative of ‘nothing in the pipeline’.

      And, if they lose Raymond to FA, then …

      As armchair GM, I would switch gears and trade the elite goalie Schneider and get a pile back. Luongo is not elite, but he is serviceable, and the overall team improvement might be worth it. The contract does indeed suck.

      Either way, dark days are upon this organization and Gillis owns it.

      When the Canucks are gone from the playoffs (if they make it), that’s it. I won’t watch much hockey after that.

      Anyway, take care.

      T.

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      • Nick
        April 4, 2013

        Don’t always agree with your comments Tom … I’m more optimistic about their chances. But you nailed it with this one. I agree.

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        April 4, 2013

        Pretty much agree as well. Though I don’t mind the Roy trade that much.

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  20. PG
    April 4, 2013

    The way Luongo has been treated is indeed heartbreaking, and beyond disrespectful. I have no big problem with the switch to Schneider mid-way through the LA series last year, but it wasn’t managed at all well from a human or PR point of view. By making it into a semi-official changing of the guard and then a soap opera, they didn’t exactly enhance his trade value, and ended up painting themselves into a corner. At this point (really as of a year ago), the only sensible asset management option is to trade Schneider, but how is Luongo going to feel playing out the string here after such a lengthy and public humiliation? This is a big mess and Luongo’s class is the only saving grace.

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  21. mb13
    April 4, 2013

    wow – Daniel, usually I think you provide a relatively neutral point of view compared to Harrison, but come on. Roberto’s contract is clearly a prohibitive factor in trading him. All things being equal and the perception is out there that Luongo’s contract is reasonable, do you really think MG considers, even for a second, an offer of 2 2nd rounders plus an undrafted back up for the ‘best goalie in the league”? The contract is liability, anybody that thinks otherwise is delusional.

    When is the local media going to stop giving MG a pass on his mistakes. If that was Brian Burke (you know, the guy that built most of this team along with his understudy), the media would have taken a completely different antagonistic approach. Gillis says things and they nod their heads agreeing with him. Challenge his BS for once! Make him accountable for his terrible moves.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 4, 2013

      I understand that his contract is a prohibitive factor. I just don’t understand why. It seems like Luongo feels the same way I do. He’s frustrated that other teams around the league don’t think he’s worth his contract and worth giving up assets to acquire.

      And good lord, if you think the media gives Gillis a pass, you don’t pay any attention to The Province. I’m not hard on Gillis because I generally think he’s done a good job and can see the reasoning behind most of his moves. I still think the Luongo deal made sense at the time and it’s only burdensome now because Schneider well-exceeded expectations in his development. I think Gillis is making the right decision by holding off on trading him and I don’t buy the rumour (started by Nonis’s cousin, Dreger, incidentally) that Gillis offered to take two 2nd round picks and Ben Scrivens for him.

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    • Nick
      April 4, 2013

      Ed Willes is one of the few willing to call out Gillis for anything.

      He has his strengths as a GM, but player acquisition (aside from Erhoff and Higgins falling into his lap) doesn’t seem to be one of them.

      Henrik’s comment this week about the importance of renewal with young talented guys in the pipeline was pretty telling.

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      • Daniel Wagner
        April 4, 2013

        Geez, saying Gillis is bad at something, then immediately listing two counter-examples and dismissing them for no real reason? C’mon, man. And that’s not including Chris Tanev, Maxim Lapierre, Dan Hamhuis, Mikael Samuelsson, and Manny Malhotra, as well as numerous other useful players like Pavol Demitra, Kyle Wellwood, Andrew Alberts, Raffi Torres, Aaron Rome, and Andrew Ebbett.

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        • Nick
          April 4, 2013

          Oh, come on! How many of those guys besides Tanev and Hamhuis are core players? And it doesn’t take a genius to sign a UFA like Hamhuis.

          Look at Gillis’ trades tell me you think he usually does well, or only average at best.

          Look at Gillis’ drafts and tell me you think he usually does well, or only average at best. I would argue below average.

          If player acquisition was a Gillis strength, shouldn’t he have a better trade and drafting record?

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          • Daniel Wagner
            April 4, 2013

            So, Gillis is terrible at acquiring players, unless the player is good, in which case he was lucky or was basically forced to sign the guy because he’d be a moron otherwise. Gillis is only truly responsible for acquiring the players that you don’t like. *sigh*

            Malhotra was a core player and played a massive role with the team until a freak eye injury. Samuelsson was a key player in the top-six. Demitra had 20 goals and 53 points in 69 games in his first season with the Canucks. How are those not core players?

            Personally, I’d include David Booth as well, but I know he’d be a contentious choice. That trade was a massive win for him, in my books, losing ageing players who weren’t going to be with the Canucks for much longer for a younger player with a proven track record for scoring 20+ goals per season. I’d say that his record with trades is pretty dang good, actually. Pahlsson and Ballard would be the only two real misses and they’re both deals that made a lot of sense at the time.

            I would argue that it’s still far too early to judge Gillis on his drafting. Draft picks normally take about 5 years to reach the NHL and we’re just approaching that mark now. Hodgson has obviously already made the NHL, while Schroeder is right on the bubble and has arguably made his case that he should be an NHLer now. Connauton will likely be a 6th or 7th defenceman by next season. Joe Cannata is a few seasons away from being at least a backup at the NHL level. Jensen looks like he could play in the NHL now, but will most likely be in the Canucks lineup full-time by next season.

            There are definitely some misses in his drafting record – Prab Rai, David Honzik, and Morgan Clark, for instance – but the same is true for every team, particularly ones that have picks late in the draft like the Canucks. The criticisms of Gillis’s drafting record are completely overblown.

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  22. Nick
    April 4, 2013

    Did I say “terrible” at player acquisition? No. I said not one of his strengths.

    And astute player acquisition by trade or by draft is more impressive than signing UFAs.

    Demitra, Samuelsson, Hamhuis, Wellwood and several of the others came by that route.

    If you want to argue that signing UFAs requires just as much skill and hockey smarts as making good trades and drafting well, I think you’d be in the minority on that one.

    And if you want to go with the “it’s too early to judge” argument for that paucity of Gillis draft picks that have panned out are in the pipeline in Chicago, that seems weak too.

    How many other teams in the league do not have a single player that they’ve drafted since 2008 in their lineup?

    Answer: I think you know already.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 4, 2013

      Canucks had Hodgson, from the 2008 draft, in the lineup. So…what’s your point?

      Look, you want to say that it’s not one of his strengths, when Higgins, Lapierre, Booth, and Ehrhoff all came via trade. You want to dismiss Higgins and Ehrhoff as being handed to him, which is a silly argument (other teams could have just as easily traded for them and didn’t), and you probably don’t think much of Lapierre and Booth, despite Lapierre being a key contributor during the 2011 Cup run, stepping in defensively for Malhotra, and Booth being one of the best puck possession forwards on the team.

      I think Gillis has done a fine job with player acquisition. A couple trades and free agent signings haven’t worked out, but no more than other teams in the league with GMs that don’t get anywhere near the kind of flack that Gillis does.

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  23. Nick
    April 4, 2013

    My point is that Gillis’ trading record, in my opinion, is pretty average. Ehrhoff and Higgins were good trades. Others like Bernier and Ballard not so good.

    And his draft record is below average if one puts aside the “we can’t judge him on this yet argument” and just look at how many players the other 29 GMs have picked since ’08 that are NHL regulars now.

    But if you’re convinced that player acquisition is a Gillis strength, that’s fine with me … but I wouldn’t say so.

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    • Mel
      April 5, 2013

      I agree completely with you, Nick. I would say that Gillis is excellent at contract negotiations, as you would expect a former player agent to be, and that he has embraced advanced statistics, thus getting players like Malhotra to address a specific need.

      However, how to draft players who have no NHL statistics? I can’t help but think that missing players like Brendan Gallagher shows a lack of listening to outside sources or cultivating connections. There’s an aura of “we know better” in the way this organization presents itself. Which is fine if you do know better, but if not..

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      • Daniel Wagner
        April 5, 2013

        Gallagher was a 5th round pick. Every NHL team passed him over 4 times. 26 teams passed him over 5 times. He was ranked 152nd just among North American skaters, so the consensus from “outside sources” was that the Canadiens actually took a reach by selecting him 147th overall.

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  24. kenahora
    April 4, 2013

    Vancouver is a small town….with smaller town mentalities.
    They like to romp around in dirty underwear ,cavities aplenty and dirty fingernails….complaining about everything wrong in their own lives….

    The Canucks are ok…and getter tougher…

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