I have a lot of respect (and learn a lot) from many of the more prominent national reporters on the NHL beat. But after hearing an idea floated by a handful of them since the Canucks -- and then the Blackhawks -- were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Im here to set the record straight on a theory that makes absolutely no sense.
Its as simple as this: Roberto Luongo is not coming to the Blackhawks.
Blackhawks management, and most Blackhawks fans, understand this makes absolutely no sense and would create another headache instead of solve the ones theyll try to address this offseason. I thought this blindfolded dart-throwing had run its course, but there it was again this week in the pages of Sports Illustrated magazine and on the television screen of NHL Network. Lets just count the reasons it wont happen:
1. If Luongo couldnt perform to his capabilities in a town that actually cheers for him, how would he handle things playing for a fan base that doesnt like him? How would he handle things playing for a team that added to his professional misery for three straight playoffs? And this isnt the hated Dennis Rodman coming to the Bulls with his championship rings from the hated Detroit Pistons as a final piece to another three-peat. Luongo has only a wedding ring.
2. The Blackhawks are not going to help the Canucks get a problem off their hands in trying to make Cory Schneider their goalie of the present and future.
3. The Blackhawks are not going to pay his 5.3 million Salary Cap hit through 2022. They only have roughly 6.8 million of Cap space for next year under the exisiting ceiling right now and that might decrease whenever a new CBA is reached. Oh, and Im sure Vancouver would want players, prospects or draft picks in return.
4. The opinion here is that theres just not a very high regard for Luongo as a goalie in the locker room or with most of those making player personnel decisions. This is not a fact, but a belief through observation over the past three years.
So those are the four main reasons it wont happen. There are probably a few other legitimate ones we could come up with as well. For those Hawks fans who do think the team needs someone better than Corey Crawford as their No. 1 netminder, feel free to speak up if you believe Luongos the answer.
I try not to come off as a flag-waving Crawford supporter, but it appears the organization is going to see how he bounces back from this past season, with Ray Emery again backing him up. Unless the team includes Crawford in a deal in which they get another goalie in return, he wont be going anywhere. Based on his rookie season, you know the capability is in there -- and if he is, in fact, still around whenever training camp begins -- this will be the season that shapes his career.
I dont remember a lot of people screaming last summer to let him go when he was a restricted free agent after taking over the starting role. He has two years remaining on that deal at a reasonable Cap hit (2.66 million), and if he regains that rookie form, Im sure most Hawks fans would be satisfied. For those wanting the Hawks to get an elite goalie, Ive asked who is elite and available, and what would a trading partner reasonably accept?
But this isnt about Crawford, really. Its about Luongo and about how hes definitely not an answer in Chicago. If Nikolai Khabibulin, Cristobal Huet and Marty Turco thought they had it tough living up to expectations in recent years here, what would Bobby Lu be in for?
The Canucks will have to find someone other than this rival to help ease their headache in the crease.