Roberto Luongo is headed somewhere, that is as much a given as the greed of NHL owners and players. For my money he's already been dealt, the deal all but completed in July and all over but the thousands of column inches media will give it once it's been announced. It's a deal that will see him back in Florida, where, as we all know, he already is. So why don't the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers announce now? Because there are details that hinge on the contract the NHL and NHLPA will finally agree to. In other words, they're waiting for the business to be straightened out.
Luongo has a decade left on his deal and his cap hit
is $5.3 million per, sizable, though not out of line for a gold-medal-winning, all-star goalie, and what is coming back in return is going to depend upon where the salary cap winds up. If it drops lower than expected, Vancouver may get less than they'd like, or may even be forced to take a contract in return.
Roberto Luongo: Homeward Bound
There have been rumblings all along that it's Florida and Luongo's demeanor this off-season, or at least when he's been in the public eye, suggests a total lack of concern. He was very relaxed while playing in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas last month, in fact he was in a positively jovial frame of mind about his future. And not only did he say that he was leaving Vancouver he told another poker player from Florida that he may be playing there again.
There was that magazine
, the Fourth Period, back in late June that claims a source close to it all said Luongo was only willing to waive his no-trade contract to get back to Florida. The magazine said that what was holding up the deal was Florida's reluctance to include young forward Nick Bjugstad; surely that was resolved and the hold-up, again, became money and the cap.
There was also the dinner he did or did not have with Michael Yormark in Las Vegas while at the poker tournament. Yormark happens to be the president of the Panthers and before leaving for Vegas from Florida, he'd tweeted
"On the road again this week. Heading to vegas for a very important dinner on monday night." That could be code for Luongo, no?
Obviously Luongo is the one who holds all the cards, with that no-trade clause he can simply say 'no'. I might have believed it could be Toronto or Chicago earlier, but the lateness - training camps open in a month if there's no lock-out - suggests he's relaxed about it because he knows where he's going. He's not worried about house-hunting in another NHL city because he has a house in Miami and he knows he'll be back there playing for the Florida Panthers.
And as soon as the NHL and NHLPA stop fighting over who gets how much of the billion plus that fans send their way each season, we'll know about it, too.