Rarely (if ever) has an NHLer been so forthcoming about a massive deal that he himself signed. But that was Roberto Luongo. And, of course, he was right, for a whole host of reasons.
At the time, he was talking about it as an impediment to a trade that would clear up the Vancouver Canucks’ goaltending jam.
Now, it takes on a whole different meaning though, as Luongo’s recent retirement announcement came with the caveat that the Canucks would be on the hook for just over $3 million a year against the cap according to the cap recapture rules designed (retroactively) to penalize teams that circumvented the salary cap with long deals.
It’s an interesting moment to be a Canucks fan, to be sure. Remembering what he brought to the team and its fans is a sure-fire way to get all misty-eyed.
He’s the best goalie in franchise history, no doubt. And he should be going into the Hockey Hall of Fame on the first ballot—contrary to what some in the national media are saying.
And while the $3 million hit definitely hampers the Canucks and general manager Jim Benning, it could be a positive thing if it prevents the club from overspending in free agency to the tune of dropping $7 million on Tyler Myers, for example.
The Canucks are the third team to be hit with the penalty (the Kings were on the hook for the Mike Richards deal, and the Devils will be paying a small amount for Ilya Kovalchuk until 2025).
Usually, these deals are simply dealt with by placing the player on long-term injured reserve, as was done in the cases of Henrik Zetterberg, Chris Pronger, Marian Hossa and others. But, even though Luongo’s hip was reportedly the cause of him calling it a career, the Florida Panthers convinced him to retire instead of going on LTIR, because it would be more advantageous for their cap situation (the Panthers are also hit with a cap recapture penalty, but it’s smaller).
In any case, it’s a chance to reflect on a bygone era when the Canucks were the cream of the league’s crop. No, it never resulted in a Stanley Cup and 2011 is still painful. But Luongo was an absolute treasure, and should be remembered as such.
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