Ok, so this whole goalie controversy has been done to death and it's high time a fork was stuck in it and then the entire thing stuck on a pike for the whole world to see.....and it's almost a foregone conclusion that come training camp there will be a new face sitting at the end of the bench hoping to see 20 games over the course of the season. And, when it comes right down to it, the chances of that face being Eddie Lack are pretty good, but what I think should still be up for debate in our GM's office is which face will be in the crease.
What we know...
Luongo had family issues while playing Vancouver.
Lou was (is?) willing to honor his contract, be a team guy and stay a Canuck if that is what the fates hold in store.
Lou wants to be "the guy".....somewhere.
Luongo is willing to waive his NTC to go where he can be "the guy".....within reason of course.
Louie is very respected as a player, both by the team and around the league.
Luongo is still a VERY good starting goaltender with a not so unreasonable cap hit.
Lou has had 5 playoff meltdowns of epic proportions.
He has also posted 2 shutouts in the SCF, and been amazing in his other playoff starts.
Lou was very good in games 1 and 2 against LA last year, and he was awesome in games 1 and 2 against SJ this year.
Luongo wants a Cup. It's pretty much his last pro goal, though I'm sure a Vezina and Conn Smythe are on his list).
Schneider is a young and very talented goalie who has still not proven himself in a full season as a starter.
Schneider has only won a single post-season game and never a series.
Schneider has a very good contract for what he COULD bring.
Vigneault has been fired and Gillis has stated that change is coming.
The fans loved Luongo, and he has earned total respect and loyalty from them by being the class act he has been this year.
What we think we know...
It was Vigneault, not Gillis, who pulled the plug on Luongo against LA in 2012.
Gillis did everything he could to do right by Luongo and was even willing to take a shit return to accommodate him.
Luongo and GIllis have a very good relationship.
Luongo has the full confidence of his teammates.
Schneider would fetch a kings ransom in return if traded.
So based on the above, is it worth considering seeing what Luongo's thoughts are about staying and being "the guy" here with some changes being made. He's still a world class goaltender and one of the most competitive guys in the league. He's just had his reset button pushed, and although he wants a fresh start, could a new face behind the bench and a few new faces on the bench be enough for him?
The guy was allegedly an awesome mentor for Schneider and would no doubt be the same kind of mentor for Eddie Lack. Knowing that he would have a secure starting job for another couple of years when he starts to hit his late 30's would take some of the pressure off of him and let him focus on playing. At that point his contract is really winding down and moving him back east and closer to home will likely be much easier as he's suddenly cheaper and that much closer to being a non-factor for a team as far as cap hit and term go.
Luongo has probably realized that being traded back east will likely mean going to a team that isn't a strong contender, especially if Gillis is hoping for at least some kind of immediate help in return. It's unlikely that Luongo gets the Canucks a top pick or prospect at this point. Chances are good he brings back a 2nd rounder and either a 2nd/3rd line skater or 3-4 dman. With this in mind, achieving his goal of winning it all as a starting goaltender is a bit more dubious.
So, if you're Gillis, do you roll the dice here. Do you trade Schneider if
it puts you in a position to get the best center in the draft pool? Do you take the chance that Luongo has wrestled with whatever demons have been plaguing him the last few years, can focus on hockey despite having his family 3 time zones away, and is ready to roar through his last few years of prime goaltending like a man possessed? Do you gamble that Eddie Lack is going to live up to the billing of being a goaltending prospect who is going to be as good (or better than, some have thought) as Schneider? Do you do all this to restock the bare cupboards and build for a future that isn't as bleak as what the Oilers have endured and the Flames are staring at?
If I'm Mike Gillis, then my answer would hinge on a good sit down with Luongo. If Roberto is comfortable with staying, and I mean 110% comfortable, then without question I make the "bold move" I've been advertising and pull the trigger that best secures this team as a contender down the road, even if it means having to spin the wheel and hope the changes to the team, both on and behind the bench, are enough for them to find that second and third playoff gear come spring and get it done when the chips are down and go out with only winning on the agenda rather than just "work hard and see what happens". Kill the country club mentality with that "bold move".
I shudder to think what this team could look like in a season or two if Gillis was able to trade both Schneider and Edler for some big pieces that shook the team to its foundation and forced them to turf the nice guy routine that plays and preaches politically correct hockey.