Sports Hockey

Vancouver Canucks trade Luongo to Florida Panthers

By Hosea Cheung, 24 hours Vancouver




There was a time when the Vancouver Canucks had Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider.


Now, both goaltenders are gone.

The trade deadline festivities came a day early for the Canucks as they dealt their No. 1 goalie on Tuesday, sending Luongo back to his former team, the Florida Panthers. After being mistreated and mishandled at times by this organization, Luongo finally got his wish, even if it did come a year late.

And just like that, after so much drama, after so much fanfare and criticism alike, after so much attention in this city, Luongo’s days as a Canuck are over.

“Just when I was starting to let my guard down a little bit, what do you know? The trade happens,” Luongo told reporters in Phoenix, where the Canucks were set to play the Coyotes Tuesday night. “Obviously I’m a little sad to be leaving Vancouver … but it’s a good opportunity for me.

“All in all, it was a great run, there was a lot of stuff that happened in between but nothing but good things to say about the fans (in Vancouver).”

In return, the Canucks get 24-year-old Swedish goalie Jacob Markstrom — a former second-round pick by the Panthers — and 26-year-old centre Shawn Matthias. This season, the Mississauga, Ont. forward has nine goals and 16 points in 19 games.

The Canucks also send prospect Steven Anthony to Florida.

”Am I happy about the resolution of the situation? Yes, I am,” general manager Mike Gillis said, adding that the team is “re-tooling.” “This season has been a real struggle for this hockey team for a lot of different reasons. We’ve been pursued by a lot of teams. I don’t know if we’re done yet or not. We’ll continue to take calls. If we do something else, it will be in the same vein to get younger and to get more depth.”

Luongo’s eight-year tenure with Vancouver began in 2006, when he came from the Panthers in a deal that included Todd Bertuzzi going the other way.

Since then, he’s been named team captain only to have it taken away from him, he’s won two gold medals with Team Canada, and he’s set multiple franchise records with the Canucks, including most wins (252), most shutouts (38), most wins in a season (47) and is also second all-time in games played with 448 in a Canucks jersey.

But his contract — a 12-year deal worth $64 million signed in 2009 — was a major hurdle in trying to trade the 34-year-old Montreal native last year. It never happened, and the Canucks moved a younger Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils at the draft.

The latest saga, however, came Sunday when rookie Eddie Lack was given the start over him at the Heritage Classic. Afterwards, head coach John Tortorella said Luongo was “pissed.”

He had yet to start for the Canucks since returning from the Olympics in Sochi.

“I thought my contract was untradeable,” Luongo said. “Obviously it hurt that I didn’t play that game (Sunday) but at the same time, I was ready to play tonight. I had moved on and was ready to go.”

This season through 42 games, he had a 19-16-6 record with a 2.38 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.

The Canucks reportedly will retain 15% of Luongo’s salary, as well.

Earlier in the day, the team made a smaller deal.

In a minor league move, Vancouver traded defenceman Patrick Mullen to the Ottawa Senators for left winger Joe Costello.

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