VANCOUVER — Roberto Luongo has seen the handwriting on the dressing room wall and revealed Tuesday he will waive his no-trade clause if Vancouver Canuck management feels this is the best move for the NHL team.
Luongo, 33, was supplanted by Cory Schneider during the Canucks' final three playoff games and even he admitted that Schneider is a budding superstar netminder. Schneider is seven years younger than Luongo and his numbers this past season, playing behind the same defence, were vastly superior to Luongo's both during the regular season and the brief playoff run.
Asked point-blank if he would waive the no-trade clause, Luongo replied: “Yeah, of course, if they ask me to. I don't want to be one of those guys who is going to stand in the way of anything. I always want to put the team ahead of me. I don't want to be one of those selfish guys.
“Obviously they have a guy here who is going to be a superstar in this league for the next 10, 12, 15 years so I'm okay with it. It is a business and that's the way it goes. I've loved being here the last six years. If I'm here in the future, then great. If I'm not, that's good also.”
Luongo still has 10 years and approximately $47 million left on his whopper of a contract. His cap hit is $5.33 million. Schneider, meanwhile, stands to become a restricted free agent July 1. He made $900,000 each of the last two seasons and is in line for a nice, fat bump in pay.
It seems difficult to envision any scenario next season in which Luongo and Schneider are both back with the Canucks. Luongo is a career No. 1 starter and Schneider appears ready for the same status. Trading Luongo will fetch an asset, or assets, in return while also freeing up cap space.
“I'm not sure what I would do if I was GM,” Luongo said. “It's a very unique circumstance we're in, I think, where we have an elite young guy who is up and coming and is probably going to dominate the league for many years. Cory was in a spot where he earned a playoff start. He had played extremely well, not only this year, but last year as well.
“Like I mentioned, it's going to be what's best for the team,” he continued. “Whether that involves me being here or not, is okay. I've learned over the course of my career that things change quickly. With anything, you don't want to look too far ahead because life has a lot of curve balls.”
According to Luongo, he and Canucks GM Mike Gillis have already met once and will meet again to “draw up a plan.” Gillis admitted that Schneider's sublime play has altered management's thinking.
“The emergence of Cory to be so outstanding as a young goalie changes the landscape,” Gillis said Tuesday in his post-mortem. “We're in the middle of a changing landscape that we need to evaluate properly. It isn't by accident that we played Cory in those [tough] games this year. We wanted to see if he was capable of being as good as we thought he was — and he is.”
Schneider, who has been politically correct throughout this changing of the guard, remained so Tuesday. He again praised Luongo for his accomplishments and guidance but also conceded that neither would be happy wearing a ballcap for large stretches next season.
“I'm not a young prospect anymore, I'm 26, ” Schneider noted. “Roberto and I are both proud guys, we're both competitors and we want to play. It's tough for either one of us to sit out, especially considering that he's been one of the most dominant goalies the past decade in this league and he still has plenty of good years left.
“If I could accomplish half of what he's done thus far, I think that would be a pretty good career. I learned a lot from him.”
Asked if he would like to sign long term with the Canucks, assuming that type of deal is offered, Schneider claimed he hasn't peered that far ahead.
“Right now, I'm not really thinking about being rewarded, or money, or anything like that,” he responded. “It's something I haven't discussed with my agent and my family. We haven't spoken to the team at all so I don't know what they're thinking. I just can't answer that [contract] question right now.”
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