April 11, 2012; Vancouver, BC, CANADA; Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo (1) makes a save against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period in game one of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals at Rogers Arena. The Los Angeles Kings won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

Canuck Watch

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Anybody in the Vancouver area should be careful when walking the streets tomorrow night, the last time the Canucks got eliminated there was a small disturbance.  Consider this the mandatory crack at the expense of the Canucks simply because I am a Leafs fan.  Along with headshots and WWE style hockey, hating the Canucks has become a universal cause which makes as much sense as a pet rock.  The end may be near for the Presidents trophy winners, which will begin question and answer season on Canada’s left coast.

Without any further making light of the unfortunate situation in Vancouver, it has been discussed in several avenues this week as to how this situation may come to benefit your very own Maple Leafs.  The ideas have been wild and crazy, but one idea remains that could in fact come into fruition.  Could the most hated goaltender in British Columbia be heading east this summer?  This is just rampant speculation, but of all the craziness that has fallen into mandatory Maple Leaf conversation on the radio, this is one of the few ideas that could actually happen.  To review how and why it may happen, lets lay all the facts on the table.

Why it could happen – The Leafs situation in net is at best unsettled, and there are no short term fixes available on the open market.  The Canucks have Luongo locked up for the next decade at a $5.33 million cap hit, and while he has been spectacular for them at times, he has looked poor to average the rest.  Luongo is not going to fetch any type of large return on the open market, but the act of removing his salary and the commitment could go a long way to the Canucks adding pieces in other areas.  For those that are offended at the notion that Luongo may not have great trade value, line the contracts of him and Rick Dipietro side by side.  Bobby Lou is the equivalent financially to the lifetime Islander, just without the injury history.  Many comments have also been made about how the big money portion of the deal has been completed, if you review carefully you will see that is not the case.  The Canucks will have paid $16 million out of a $64 million dollar contract.  This leaves $48 million in guaranteed money to whatever team inherits the contract. 

Why it might happen – The situation may arise that Luongo becomes available without having to make a trade.  This would be the most likely way as Toronto would not likely be on his list of destinations in a trade, as he does hold veto power.  Given the current CBA is expiring in September, the likelihood of clemency being offered in terms of one time buyouts may give teams the opportunity to get rid of salary without cap penalty.  With Luongo being on the hook for 10 more years, it would be hard to imagine the Canucks being comfortable with holding on to that particular contract.  This is not a shot at either the team or the player, at the time the contract was signed Roberto was playing very well and there was really no dispute who the starter was.  With the emergence of an extremely solid Cory Schneider, Vancouver may opt to stay with the younger goalie going forward.  If this happens, Brian Burke may be inclined to investigate a potential deal to improve his crease. 

Why it shouldn’t happen – Luongo has been very good at times in the regular season, but he has also been very bad.  The fact that his coach would not expose him to the Boston crowd earlier in the year speaks volumes about his level of confidence in the player.   If he were to join the Leafs, it would have to concern owners and management that Luongo could not stop anything in his last start in Massachusetts.  Even if only isolated, his performance against the Buffalo Sabres was equally appalling.  The Northeast division seems to give the guy fits.  The Leafs need a goalie that is mentally tough in these situations, but it could also be argued that they need some more players to show these qualities. 

Why it won’t happen – This will likely never become reality because Roberto Luongo will not let it.  Whether bought out or traded, the next destination on the embattled goalies list will be much quieter.  The problems that he has in Vancouver would only be magnified in Toronto, even if he played lights out.  Players earn reputations over time, deserved or not, and when this has happened to players while playing for the Leafs, it has seldom ended well.  The most documented case was Larry Murphy, but more recently perceived underachievers such as Bryan McCabe and Vesa Toskala were nearly chased out of town by a pitchfork wielding mob.  If he becomes available, Luongo will settle into a Florida sunset, or some place equally as peaceful.  For him and his families sake.

Suspension Count Playoffs 2012 – 8 Suspensions for 21 Games. 

Stay tuned daily as the suspension counter will be a new feature added to each post.  The sad part is, it would have only taken one signifigant ruling to calm this all down, but the NHL decided to go the cowards route.  By attempting to avoid contraversy, they created exponentially more.  For that they get to wear the dunce cap.  Stay Classy NHL.

 

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