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article imageCould a Roberto Luongo trade be nixed due to a shortened season?

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 6, 2013 in Sports
There's no need for a recitation of the NHL deeds of Roberto Luongo, even before coming to the Canucks the gold-medal goalie was an all-star. But he has a flaw and it's one that, with the lockout now over, may prevent him from being traded this season.
Luongo's flaw, along with imploding in Boston during Stanley Cup finals of course, is the slow starts he has to each season; he himself said in October of last season that "in my career I think I've had only one really good October." Despite being renown for his work ethic, the former Florida Panther and New York Islander is notorious for starting each season at a poor to mediocre level of play.
That leaves any team the 33-year-old plays for a little in the hole at the top of a new campaign as Bobby Lou struggles through his first handful of starts, and sometimes beyond. A 48 game or 50 game schedule, more than 30 games shy of what the league normally plays, could give teams needing a number one puckstopper pause about dealing for Luongo.
Roberto Luongo: Starts NHL seasons slow
The cause for those poor starts is of course a need to work a lot to get and stay sharp, only after playing frequently over the course of a few weeks does he find his 'A' game; teams have to ride it out and take some losses along the way. Making the situation worse this season will be his age, the extra months of game-inactivity and a shortened preparation period to get the league up and running again. In short, it could be an even bigger issue than in the past.
Both the Toronto Maple Leafs, rumored to be Luongo's likely destination, and Panthers, reported to be his preferred choice, struggle offensively, and will need their number 1 guy at the top of his game from the drop of the puck. The Chicago Blackhawks have also been rumored to be in the mix, which makes for at least one club with enough firepower to weather the storm of a less-than-sharp number one goalie in the early going.
The Leafs are the most intriguing destination, a team that desperately needs to make the Stanley Cup playoff after sitting on the sidelines 7 straight postseasons and not winning a Cup since 1967. But GM Brian Burke won't keep his job by giving up assets for a goalie that puts his team behind the 8 ball in the early going. Should that happen and they miss the playoffs by a game or two a sophisticated Toronto fanbase won't hesitate to point to where it all began and Toronto management will point Burke toward the door.
Luongo: A Vancouver Canuck for 2012-13?
And what would being forced to hang on to Luongo mean for Vancouver? They're fine cap-space wise, though they'd prefer not to have his $5.3 million hit, but they'd miss something coming the other way (until Ryan Kesler gets back, there's a big hole at center). Further, after Cory Schneider - ready to go having played in Switzerland (including in the Spengler Cup) - was given the reins last postseason, Luongo has surely grown tired of looking at the writing on the wall.
So while Mike Gillis won't admit it, not trading Luongo does not do a heck of a lot for Vancouver, which means the Canucks GM will have to highlight Luongo's performances during his team's playoff runs and hope hat Burke, or whichever GM comes calling, doesn't ask about the start.
It will all play out in the days to come as the NHL and NHLPA ratify the CBA, abbreviated training camps occur and the season finally gets underway, likely either January 15 or 19. There will be a flurry of deals and signings but Roberto Luongo is more likely to remain a Vancouver Canuck than he would have been had a new CBA been achieved in time for an 82-game schedule.
More about roborto luongo, Vancouver canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke, dave nonis
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