“Only the right thoughts will take you where you want to go.” It sounds so much simpler coming from the astute sugary treat at the end of a Chinese takeout meal. With each passing day, it seems that Roberto Luongo wants more and more to take charge of his own fortune. In the last few weeks, he has made it quite clear that he would like to return to Florida and has been waiting for the right pieces to fall into place. Chicago now enters the conversation, but the latest development from Vancouver hints that the Panthers are still the frontrunner in the Luongo Sweepstakes.
According to Rumor Central on espn.com, there is speculation that Vancouver GM Mike Gillis would demand that Jose Theodore would be part of the deal that would send Luongo to Florida. With back-up netminder Scott Clemmensen re-signed to a two year deal, that would make Luongo the starter with Clemmensen behind him, and top prospect Jakob Markstrom would still be waiting in the wing in San Antonio.
There is a hiccup in that scenario, according to those sources: Theodore has a limited no-trade clause that reveals only ten teams to whom he could be dealt without issues, and the Canucks are not part of that list. So, if this particular deal were to definitely be pursued, the Panthers would have tactics in place that could potentially force a move.
If Dale Tallon was presented with a deal that he favored, the Panthers’ organization could try to sway him by threatening his starting role. That being the case, moving him down to third on the depth chart would likely be the best bet to get him to waive his no-trade clause.
Luongo has said on multiple media outlets that it is time to move on, and has recognized that his fate is in Gillis’ hands. Consider that he already has a house in South Florida with his native-Floridian wife (who he met during his years playing for the Panthers). Other than that, I think Luongo sees the biggest draw as returning to a market where, in terms of the rest of the NHL, there might seem to be a little less pressure.
For the most part, “Superman” has always been regarded as a regular season hero, but over the last couple of years has taken on the unwanted stigma of a playoff choke artist. Granted he did take the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago, but his collapse in that series will probably be remembered for a very long time — perhaps he is thanking Ilya Bryzgalov and Marc Andre-Fleury for the temporary distraction this year.
Obviously, he never experienced the playoffs while playing in Florida, and it goes without saying that much less scrutiny came with the territory. He was the savior on a team that saw endless struggles. My feeling is that while he doesn’t want so much of a spotlight, he does want an environment that he knows he can succeed in.
Having Luongo back in Florida wouldn’t be a bad thing as long as a contract can be arrived at that makes sense business-wise (meaning: it isn’t absolutely ridiculous). Too bad there’s no fortune cookie for that.
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