Luongo will be in camp; agent blasts Mike Gillis

Cam Charron
July 26 2013 10:17AM

There aren't very many ways that this Roberto Luongo saga can end. For the second consecutive year, questions surrounding Roberto's future will be the centre of discussion at Canucks training camp, but for now, it appears he'll be there.

Turns out, Luongo won't go the "walk away from the team and have my contract voided and lose the remaining $40-million on my deal" route. New agent Pat Brisson yesterday confirmed that Luongo would at least be at camp, and for the foreseeable future, Luongo is the Vancouver Canucks' starting goalie.

That caused a bit of a ripple online, especially as Luongo got back into the Twitter game:

In other Luongo news, the embattled goaltender's former agent Gilles Lupien took a call from Tamarack, Ontario to talk to Globe and Mail reporter Roy MacGregor. Lupien had some harsh words for Mike Gillis, criticizing the way that Gillis handled the Luongo situation:

“It’s okay to say you’re going to trade someone,” he says, “ but then trade him. If I want to sell my car, and I want to get a good price for it, I don’t say my car is always in the garage. There’s something wrong with it. No one will want to buy it. You either say your car is the best car you ever had – or you say nothing.”

It would be ridiculous to suggest that Gillis hasn't mishandled this thing from Day 1, and the Canucks goaltender controversy goes all the way back to Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in 2012 against the Los Angeles Kings, when then-coach Alain Vigneault all but decided that down 0-2 in the series, a chance of starting goaltenders was necessary.

At the draft that year, Gillis suggested he was the problem, and the reason a deal was being held up. For close to a year, Gillis kept talking about some Mystery Team that had the prerequisite need for a starting goaltender and sufficient salary cap space and financial resources, despite no such team existing in the NHL. Trading Cory Schneider never seemed to be an option for whatever reason, despite that being the eventual course of action.

In a funky twist of fate, the only person involved with the Luongo situation to see negative financial ramifications is Gilles Lupien, for whatever reason. We can be happy knowing that we have potentially nine more years of Luongo, and nine more training camps speculating about his future. It was mishandled from the start and reflects poorly upon Gillis and Laurence Gilman who tried to sell their car through the media and simply didn't. The addition of Mystery Teams certainly didn't help.

But there are a lot of moving pieces. I'm still not convinced cap recapture is what caused Luongo to become untradeable, the Toronto Maple Leafs' change of personnel and philosophical shift didn't help, even though I was never convinced that the Canucks and Maple Leafs were good trading partners. There's a lot to ruminate about this process, but we have a lot of time to do that.

As for the "walk away" route, it could still happen next season. The Canucks also still have one compliance buy-out they can use next offseason, so there are still ways it can end. With the team's public unwillingness to deal Schneider, the process looks remarkably botched from the outside, and it was never fair to let a human being suffer in that regard.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#51 NM00
July 29 2013, 10:34AM
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@Lemming

"If the cap-benefit recapture clause had existed in the last CBA, the Luongo deal wouldn't extend as long as it does not because all parties expect Luongo to retire before his contract is up, but because it's merely a possibility."

How exactly do you think the contract would have been structured then?

Luongo was getting his money one way or the other.

If you want to ignore the last 4 years of the deal when the money tapers off, it is an 8 year $57 million contract.

The cap hit would have been $7.125/year.

Something tells me the Canucks prefer the interest free loan.

It's not "good" accounting. It's "proper" accounting.

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#52 JCDavies
July 29 2013, 11:28AM
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@NM00

I respect Tom Tango a lot but I disagree with him on this issue.

The league approved the deal. If the government thought you were evading taxes it wouldn't let you continue to do what you are doing with its stamp of approval. It would stop the process immediately and demand payment. If the league acted in this manner, the contract never would have existed.

As for the tax/interest deferral argument. When you defer payments you do so with the intention of paying them back in the future. None of the teams that signed these agreements did so with that expectation.

This is more like the government making changes to the tax code that burden tax payers for previously made decisions.

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#53 NM00
July 29 2013, 11:45AM
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@JCDavies

"When you defer payments you do so with the intention of paying them back in the future. None of the teams that signed these agreements did so with that expectation."

So then these teams were actively engaged in cap circumventing practices, right?

Weren't these teams intentionally trying to get away with not paying taxes?

The Canucks and other teams really don't have a legitimate argument here.

Unless they want to admit they were handing out contracts that went against the spirit of the old CBA.

Putting aside Tango's point and our feelings as Canuck fans, cap recapture seems like a perfectly fair way to ensure the books are (eventually) balanced.

The Canucks aren't getting screwed. Benefit received in the present will merely be recaptured in the future.

And it's more than a fair tradeoff. By the time cap recapture impacts the Canucks, the cap will be north of $80 million.

The actual percentage of the total cap will be limited.

Would you have preferred Luongo signing an 8/57 deal with a $7.125 cap hit?

There wouldn't have been any cap room for Ballard :)

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#54 JCDavies
July 29 2013, 12:29PM
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@NM00

I think Vancouver and the other teams involved thought they were working within the legal framework that the league agreed to with the players.

No team would've signed those contracts with prior knowledge that this would be the result.

To argue that the cap recapture rule does not harm the clubs that signed the contracts, you would have to argue that the teams would still be willing to sign them now that they are aware of the rule. I don't think you can argue that even one team would.

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#55 NM00
July 29 2013, 01:34PM
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@JCDavies

"To argue that the cap recapture rule does not harm the clubs that signed the contracts, you would have to argue that the teams would still be willing to sign them now that they are aware of the rule. I don't think you can argue that even one team would."

I assume you mean that IF these clubs could still sign Luongo-like contracts, right?

In any case, I completely disagree.

Why wouldn't NHL teams want an interest free loan that would be paid back when the cap is significantly higher?

GMs in particular would be in favour of this. After all, what are the chances Gillis is around when Luongo's cap hit is recaptured?

There is one team and one team only that should be excessively pissed and it's not Vancouver:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=333690

The Devils did what Detroit, Vancouver and other teams did, albeit to a greater extreme, and were the only team actually "punished", I'd argue.

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#56 JCDavies
July 29 2013, 02:51PM
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@NM00

I'm slowly coming around on this and I can see why some GMs might want to do this but I still think it was outside the scope of the old CBA. I don't think anybody saw this coming in 2009.

FWIW, I think the deferred payment analogy is better than the interest free loan analogy.

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#57 NM00
July 29 2013, 04:00PM
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@JCDavies

I think all GMs would do this if they had the ability with the new CBA.

For example, I'm sure Ray Shero would love to defer payment (see what I did there) on any or all of Crosby, Malkin or Letang.

An extra $5 million, for example, this season with a $64 million cap is far more valuable than $5 million in 2019-2020 with a $80+ million cap.

Not to mention that GMs have a shelf life and care more about the current cap situation as opposed to the cap situation 5-10 years down the road...

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#58 Lemming
July 29 2013, 05:42PM
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My only point is that of course Luongo's retirement would have been taken into account by Canucks management in the sense of "even if he doesn't play through to the end of the contract, it's no-risk". The league just threw that on its head. Do you really think the Canucks would sign a contract like that wherein they'd risk a significant cap hit if Luongo were to retire a year or two before his deal was done?

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#59 NM00
July 29 2013, 08:32PM
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@Lemming

I absolutely believe the Canucks still would have done that type of contract even if present day cap benefit would be recaptured in the future.

For starters, Gillis would receive the benefit while, in all likelihood, another GM would have received the "punishment".

Also, by the time the cap benefit is recaptured the cap may very well be over $80 million.

Do you really think Gillis expected to be the GM 10 years after the ink had dried?

Even with cap recapture I believe most if not all GMs would love to have the ability to offer backdiving contracts if the new CBA allowed it.

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#60 Lemming
July 29 2013, 10:01PM
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Gillis isn't the only one signing cheques. A contract like this, Aquillini has a hand in it without a doubt. Do you think HE would sign off on this?

I'm not saying it wouldn't have been a back diving contract, but I would bet ridiculous amounts of dollars that the last few years of that contract would not be on there. As soon as the ink was dry people would be pointing out the stupidity of signing a contract like this precisely because it handcuffs the Canucks later.

If Gillis signed this exact contract in the hypothetical "last CBA including cap recapture" scenario, the deal would've been received with even more people unhappy with the deal, and likewise fewer people happy with it. It would legitimately be a complaint that if Luongo were to retire that the Canucks would be stuck with the cap recapture hit.

This isn't just proper accounting, it's a "don't screw with the league" warning from the NHL.

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#61 NM00
July 29 2013, 10:52PM
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@Lemming

"I would bet ridiculous amounts of dollars that the last few years of that contract would not be on there."

Luongo was getting his money one way or another.

Sure, he may have been willing to lop off the last 4 years and $7 million.

But he still would have received the first 8 years and $57 million, wouldn't he? He was never giving a home town discount.

"This isn't just proper accounting, it's a "don't screw with the league" warning from the NHL."

Just be happy we only got a warning while the Devils legitimately received punishment :)

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#62 Lemming
July 30 2013, 12:17AM
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@NM00

"Just be happy we only got a warning while the Devils legitimately received punishment :)"

True dat (cause I'm the epitome of gangsta)

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