August 23 2013 10:21AM
Even with Roberto Luongo's media silence, it's not like the situation between the pipes this summer has been totally drama-free. Luongo fired his agent, but committed to joining Canucks camp in September. As it turns out, Luongo had gone to the NHLPA back in May to see if there was a way out of the remaining $40-million on his contract so he could get a fresh start in another market.
TSN has the exclusive with Luongo later today at 3 p.m., but NHL on TSN host James Duthie has already tweeted out a few choice details:
Luongo will report to Canucks training camp, and says he is extremely motivated, but remains uncertain about his future in Van.— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) August 23, 2013
Again, we knew this the day that Luongo changed agents. Pat Brisson spoke on behalf of his client a month ago confirming that Luongo would be in camp. New bench boss John Tortorella has apparently talked to Luongo four times since being named coach, and I don't think Luongo's commitment can be questioned going into this season. Whether he likes it or not, he's in Vancouver for now and he's a fierce competitor and a hell of a hockey player. It would be completely out of character for him to mail in a season, even if the organization should have treated him better rather than jerking him around last year.
Luongo: "I had moved on from Vancouver and was ready to start fresh somewhere else...like a divorce...except she wanted me back."— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) August 23, 2013
The money quote, I suspect. Not much of a takeaway from this, but illuminating, and come on, who hasn't been there? It's like the dozens of times I've assured myself I'll quit drinking to excess.
Luongo also talks about breaking down after not being dealt at deadline and "blacking out" when he learned VAN had traded Schneider.— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) August 23, 2013
Speaking of drinking to excess… you may remember that James Duthie attempted to get a hold of Luongo during TSN's coverage on Draft Day, but Luongo declined to comment. This was all Duthie said on the broadcast on the matter:
Luongo is frankly in shock. He loved his time in Vancouver, but for the last 14 months he thought it was going to end so the divorce was kind of made in his mind. So at this point, he doesn't want to do any interviews; we asked him to come on with us, but he's just going to talk to his agent and evaluate his choices.
Cory Schneider was also shocked. It was a turn of events that nobody expected.
Luongo also reveals that in May he had serious talks with the NHLPA about the possibility of voiding his deal and walking away from 40m.— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) August 23, 2013
And the key detail here. The Standard Player's Contract is a little fuzzy on what's to happen if a player decides to simply not show up to training camp. Last fall, Tim Thomas decided against going to Boston, and his salary counted against the cap until the team traded his hit to the New York Islanders for effectively nothing. Thomas didn't retire, and made the decision to return to hockey this summer with his contract having expired.
The Canucks would have had the ability to terminate his contract, but the salary probably would have counted against the cap for this season, even if he didn't have to be paid. I'm guessing the NHLPA advised him to not walk away from $40-million. Players walking away from unfavourable contracts is likely not something either the NHL or NHLPA want to encourage after we've just come out of a lockout.
UPDATE: As Twitter dot com's Sir Canuckles points out, Thomas's contract stayed on the books because of Thomas' age when he signed the deal:
@camcharron Worth pointing out - Thomas' contract stayed on the books because it was a 35+ deal. Luongo's isn't.— Ian (@SirCanuckles) August 23, 2013
More details should be revealed during the full interview at 3 p.m. Pacific/6 p.m. Eastern.