Imagine that Kathleen Wynne becomes premier of Ontario but her predecessor Dalton McGuinty is still allowed to run the province until he gets himself re-established in a new full-time gig.
That’s the transitional trope in Vancouver where Cory Schneider was awarded the starting goalie position with the Canucks at season’s start. But management has kindly agreed to let Roberto Luongo keep his old No. 1 job till he gets his feet on the ground. The lingering drama has left Vancouver fans, excitable at the best of times, positively unhinged.
Luongo notched his fourth straight win on Monday with a 3-2 overtime win in Edmonton. Despite a paucity of scoring (Vancouver fervently awaits the return of Ryan Kesler and David Booth), Luongo’s win streak has put the swagger back in the two-time defending President’s Cup champions. And no one does swagger like Luongo and the ‘Nucks.
Remember how he wouldn’t pump Tim Thomas’s tires in the 2011 Stanley Cup final? Yeah, that swagger.
Concurrent with these developments, Vancouver GM Mike Gillis and his trusted Sancho Panza, Laurence Gilman, have been wandering the East, studying prospects and contenders. Sunday they popped up on TV in Washington where the Capitals are listing to port. (Tuesday they were due to watch the Rangers and Devils in New Jersey.)
To innervated Canucks fans, Gillis’s Washington appearance was akin to an outbreak of boils. Luongo trade fever peaked. After the Twitter storm subsided, Gillis apologized to Capitals GM George McPhee.
“I told him we only came to see the game,” Gillis told the Grind. “We didn’t mean to cause him any problems. We planned this trip a while ago to see some NCAA free agents and some games in the East to evaluate where we are at versus good teams here.”
Still, you can (almost) understand the anticipation of Vancouver fans.
It took less time to sell Alaska to the Americans than it’s taking Gillis to complete an exchange for Luongo. Gillis believes in a certain value for his erstwhile starter, citing his long record of accomplishment; the rest of the hockey world apparently disagrees, citing Luongo’s age (33) and lengthy contract (Nine more years after this one, with an annual cap hit of $5,333,333).
Luongo’s current win streak and the Canucks’ relative health (5-2-2) in the standings might finally be moving the needle in Gillis’s direction.
Not that you’d notice from the phlegmatic Vancouver GM. When asked how Luongo and Schneider were coping, Gillis told TEAM 1040 in Vancouver, “We don’t have the luxury, as you guys like to think about, people’s feelings as opposed to wins. We don’t have that luxury. We have to win games.”
Reached in New York, Gillis told the Grind that, while he appreciates the Luongo advice from his million unpaid consultants in social media, he will make the deal on his own terms. He also cordially thanks eastern journalists for their input, too. “They always have such good things to say,” Gillis added drily.
Luongo’s landing spot
Who will be the suitor for Lucky Luongo?
The 2-7-1 Caps have a motherlode of young prospects, questionable young goalies and an owner dying to win NOW.
Florida, where Luongo makes his off-season home, is in stagger mode, 13th in the East.
Long thought the belle of this trading ball, Toronto (at 5-5) is getting excellent goaltending from James Reimer but not much else.
Philadelphia is 4-6, a record that will have octogenarian owner Ed Snider looking to rattle the cupboard.
Or perhaps there’s nothing to see here.
“I’ve said all along that we would not be unhappy to keep both guys if it meant winning,” Gillis says. “The team winning the Stanley Cup could play as many as 76 games, and no goalie can carry that alone. So elite goalies are a rare commodity in this kind of season, and we’re not going to give Roberto away.”
Great. The Canucks simply keep Luongo. What every story needs. No punch line.
Brushback from the booth
Jack Morris may be having trouble getting into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but the man who helped pitch Toronto to the 1992 World Series had no difficulty getting into the the Blue Jays’ Sportsnet Radio broadcast booth. Morris was named late Tuesday afternoon as the successor to Alan Ashby as the analyst beside Jerry Howarth.
In his pitching career with Minnesota, Detroit and Toronto, Morris was famous for getting teams to the World Series (he won four times). The apparently locked-and-loaded Blue Jays must be hoping he does the same again in a broadcast capacity.
It’ll be a tough assignment following Ashby. The former catcher was always frank about the game, rarely sparing the home team from his wrath if they played at less than professional standards.
A blunt, no-nonsense guy when he pitched, Morris had no trouble pitching inside or speaking his mind as a player. It will be interesting to see how he distributes that over 162 games.
Morris will also be appearing on Sportsnet’s TV package as an analyst and across the network’s entire platform.
Playing the odds
Maybe we’re not winning on our wagers because we’re not consulting the right people.
In a stunning development, it’s been revealed that the Amazing Kreskin had the winning team and its final score in Sunday’s Super Bowl. He might have had both teams scores correct had Baltimore not conceded a safety late in the game.
How does he do that? Only Vegas knows.
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