As trade speculation surrounding Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo continues to swirl, he believes that his days in Vancouver are numbered. Luongo was scheduled to be on Vancouver's CFOX Morning Show to discuss the World Series of Poker, however the conversation quickly shifted to which team he would be suiting up for this season. In his first interview since Vancouver was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Luongo said that he enjoyed his time with the Canucks and understands that it's time to move on.
"I'm okay with that," Luongo told the radio station on Friday. "I had a great six years in Vancouver. I think it's a wonderful city, I really enjoyed my time there. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to bring a Stanley Cup there, which was probably my biggest regret. But it will be remembered for six great years."
In May, the 33 year old Luongo told the media that he would be willing to waive his no trade clause to any team if General Manager Mike Gillis requested it. His comments led many to believe that the Canucks were ready to move him and the trade speculation strengthened last week when the team re-signed goaltender Cory Schneider to a three year, $12 million deal.
Luongo has 339 career wins over 12 NHL seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders along with 60 shutouts, a 2.52 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Since arriving in Vancouver in 2006, Luongo has led the Canucks to five playoff appearances. The Canucks have also held the league's best regular season record in the past two years in large part due to Luongo's stellar play leading up to the postseason. In 61 playoff starts he has 32 wins, with a 2.53 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. He currently ranks second in league career wins amongst active goalies and has the record for most wins in Canucks franchise history.
Roberto Luongo is still one of the top goalies in the NHL and has plenty left in the tank which explains the interest in the netminder from several teams including the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Chicago Blackhawks.
"I think playing in a hockey market is great," said Luongo. "Playing in one is a preference for sure. Playing in a place like Florida with anonymity - to go out somewhere and have a dinner with your family and relax and stuff is great. When you're on the ice, being able to play in a building that's rocking, sold out and the fans are passionate about their team - as a hockey player you always want to be in that type of market."
Roberto Luongo was also asked about the possibility of joining the Blackhwaks. "That's a good question," Luongo said. "I think there's a lot of cities that are great to play in, and Chicago's definitely one of them. But you have to realize that it works both ways. There's not only me involved in this decision. It's also a question if the Blackhawks would be interested, if the team would be interested in trading me there and if I wanted to go there."
Luongo may be the missing piece needed by teams such as the Leafs and Panthers to not only make the playoffs but to also make a deep run in the postseason. In Florida, Luongo would take over the starting role from Jose Theodore who led the Panthers to their first playoff appearance in 10 years. With the current level of talent on their roster, a goalie like Luongo would compliment their speedy forwards and shutdown defenseman, surely allowing Florida to advance past the conference quarterfinals. In Toronto, the goaltending duties would be handed from James Reimer to Roberto Luongo. A top goalie goes a long way in the NHL and Luongo is just what the Leafs need to end their 7 year playoff drought. He would also act as a good mentor for James Reimer and Ben Scrivens and prevent the Leafs from placing their postseason hopes on the shoulders of two inexperienced goalies. In Chicago it is a completely different set of circumstances as a goalie of Luongo's caliber may return the Blackhawks to the finals to once again hoist the Stanley Cup. After losing goaltender Antti Niemi following their 2010 championship, Corey Crawford took over between the pipes. In two seasons Crawford has showed signs of brilliance during the regular season however he has faded when games are on the line in the postseason. As a result, the Blackhawks front office and the fans have lost some faith in Crawford.
Luongo has 10 years left on a 12 year deal he signed with Vancouver in 2010 and the contract is heavily front end loaded. After Luongo's comments yesterday it may only be a matter of time until he's traded, however Mike Gillis must lower his asking price in order for a deal to be reached.
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