It’s a slow NHL news Wednesday when we dedicate a second consecutive mashup to discussing the Canucks’ star for sale franchise goaltender available goaltender.
You can at least partly thank James Duthie’s epic tweet from late Wednesday night: “Sources say Roberto Luongo will submit a short list of teams he’d waive his no-trade to go to next week. Toronto will be on it.”
That will surely quiet the discussion.
I’m not going to debate the merits of the player, the drawbacks of the contract, or the likelihood of Luongo’s possible destinations – that’s all been done, even by our own Ryan Fancey, who debated himself thoroughly on the topic yesterday and reached pretty much the same conclusion I do: “I canâ€™t pick a side. I just want the Leafs to get him and their goaltending to not be hilarious next season.” Amen, friend.
I’ll go a different route. Let’s talk about no-trade-clauses. (Links after the jump).
Luongo’s admission he’d waive in order to help the team was almost suspiciously painless compared to the protracted discussions we’ve seen in players past – but that doesn’t change the fact there’s a limited list of teams and situations he’ll allow himself to become involved with.
The NTC remains a player luxury, but at this point – have we seen enough to know it’s lost some relevance?
A player doesn’t negotiate a NTC thinking he’ll ever be asked to waive it – that’s the point of a NTC, to secure onself and nullify any potential conversation. A GM doesn’t offer one thinking he’ll ever want to move the player – they’re reserved for special players who’ve performed well enough to deserve them, and if the GM is committing significant cash to said player upon signing of the contract, odds are pretty damn good he believes fully in the player to begin with. At the end of the day, the clause is a GM handcuff and a player benefit that is probably the result of a player’s contractual concession elsewhere (lower dollars? fewer years?)
The NTC premise should be simple, and final. It’s a communication from both sides that the player doesn’t want and won’t be asked to go anywhere. Now, I’m aware circumstances change and the unforeseen plays a huge role in that – but at this point, does the NTC really represent the security to a player that its writing suggests?
We’ve seen player after player very publicly asked – or at least privately suggested – to waive. Luongo’s the latest. It’s about to happen to Rick Nash. We all watched it happen – protracted over several years – to Tomas Kaberle, a player who legitimately and emphatically had no interest in going anywhere.
It’s almost come to the point that when a player signs an NTC, he does it with the knowledge that he will probably – one day – be asked to waive it. We’ve seen enough examples at this point to know they’re hardly ironclad. Luongo’s willingness to at least have the necessary conversations suggests he’s a man who absolutely understands his own situation. Make no mistake, the NTC remains valuable to players because it ultimately ensures them control over where they play – but when do we reach a point where the young player about to sign his own might (rightly) wonder just how secure he’s going to feel if organizational direction and fan sentiment will inevitably combine to render that NTC valuable on paper, but fairly worthless in practice.
I mean, it wasn’t that long ago this was happening – and just look at some of those quotes! Luongo said, “If you’re happy where you are and you’re comfortable there, and you think you have a team to win with, why would you go somewhere else?” Gillis added, “[Luongo] is the leader of our hockey team; he is in the prime of his playing career and has a tremendous desire to make the Canucks a championship team. His leadership, competitiveness and character are what this team will represent for many years to come.”
That was 966 days ago. From a different perspective: Luongo is essentially being asked to waive an NTC just 22% of the way into his 12-year deal.
Like I said – unforeseen developments, and such. Cory Schneider wasn’t exactly tearing up the Canucks’ backup position as of September 2009, having appeared in 8 NHL games the previous year and posted an .877 SV%. The situation Vancouver finds itself in now is that oft-mentioned but rarely actually seen “good problem to have,” but it certainly doesn’t look like the people involved feel that way.
An NTC is still an NTC. But the more this kind of thing happens, the more a player’s hand might hesitate slightly on contract day when his agent places that supplementary page requiring a signature in front of him.
Enjoy your Thursday morning links!
– Your 2012 Vezina trophy finalists are Pekka Rinne, Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist. I’m using several other major news outlets for the rest of the links, so…what the hell, let’s give the National Post a shot in the arm for this one.
– Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith joined Team Canada’s fairly great-looking roster for the World Championships, and The Leafs Nation has a nice chart breaking down confirmed players by position, and including their career stats from the tournament! Convenient!
– Forget Quebec City. Edmonton is apparently the next NHL town intending to build a new arena for housing that stable of young forward superstars, and proposed designs have appeared online. I can’t decide what it resembles more – a giant aquarium or a landed spaceship – but it looks cool.
– Sidney Crosby defended his decision not to join Team Canada at the Worlds via The Star, an article you can file under “Things Sidney Crosby absolutely did not need to do after the year he’s had.”
– Kerry Fraser is still answering reader questions, and his answers are still masquerading as TSN articles. Feel free to read it, in the event you can withstand his (no, really) well-informed and often insightful opinions longer than five seconds without screaming “I WILL NEVER BELIEVE ANYTHING YOU SAY, EVER!” and setting something on fire.
– Mirtle’s got some cool Game 7 stats over at the Globe heading into Wednesday night’s action. Relevant for Thursday: Rangers are a lifetime 3-1, Sens 0-4. So…good?
– “Sportsnet Staff” looks at 4 possible destinations for Luongo, which is an interesting piece, until they get to #3. Which is Columbus. Who might apparently consider giving up Rick Nash or the #2 overall pick, as if…you know…Mike Gillis can actually expect a haul like that for a player with Luongo’s contract.