The Roberto Luongo saga continues to be the main topic of conversation in Vancouver.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis added even more intrigue to the subject during a wide-ranging interview with Vancouver Sun columnist Cam Cole published in Tuesday's editions.
When Cory Schneider took over the goaltending duties during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring and was instituted as the No. 1 goalie heading into the 2012-13 season, it was widely assumed that Luongo would be traded.
But it has yet to happen. In the interview Monday, Gillis said he has not had the opportunity to do the necessary work to ensure the club gets a proper return for moving a franchise goalie who has a Stanley Cup Final appearance and an Olympic gold medal on his resume. Gillis said he believes keeping Luongo -- instead of giving him away for less than market value to alleviate a potentially awkward situation -- is not the answer.
"Roberto has a no-trade (contract clause), so in discussions prior to the lockout, he had a say in where he was prepared to go," Gillis told Cole. "Once the lockout starts, you're not permitted to even talk about player transactions, subject to huge fines and loss of draft picks. Then the lockout ends and suddenly, you're trying to make a decision in four or five days about a premier player in this League, and it's tough to make a trade of this magnitude in eight months, let alone four days. So we have him here, and we're happy having him here.
"There wasn't really time to do anything but this. And we're going to let it play out. Lots of stuff is going to happen here in the first month."
A lot of stuff has already happened. Schneider bombed in the season opener, allowing five goals on 14 shots by the Calgary Flames before being relieved by Luongo, who then started the team's second game and looked strong in suffering a 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
After that game, coach Alain Vigneault refused to name a starter for the game at home against Calgary on Wednesday. He named Schneider later Tuesday.
Plus, Gillis hinted that despite the short time frame he has had to broker a deal, the framework of a trade could be developing.
"We have a potential deal in place with one team that has to do something with another player that they have — and it's not who anybody thinks it is — and so we have to wait," he said.
Gillis also told Cole that the Canucks have received a number of offers that have not met the team's threshold for a return.
"We've been offered packages that don't fit what our plan is, what we need," Gillis said. "Excess salary coming back with a [throw-in] player who can't play in our lineup. They say, ‘OK, we'll do this, but you've got to take this.' Well, we're not taking it. We've had lots of proposals like that with good pieces that can help us but the other part doesn't help us, and oftentimes they have term attached to them, so we'd just be turning around and buying out a guy.
"I'd rather keep the guy we know, who's a good person."
In fact, Gillis said he believes Vancouver can survive and win for as long as necessary with the controversial tandem of Schneider and Luongo.
"We have a really good player here who brings a tremendous amount to the team, his professionalism, his willingness to work — he's the kind of player that changes the culture on a team and shows players what it means to be an elite-level player," Gillis said of Luongo.
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