Want Roberto Luongo? NHL teams must ‘pay a price’: Canucks GM Mike Gillis
Vancouver’s general manager adamant that he’s ready to keep both of his goalies all season
Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis says he's fine with keeping both Roberto Luongo (right) and Cory Schneider as his team's goaltenders throughout this shortened 2012-13 National Hockey League season. 'I have complete confidence these guys are going to play a lot of hockey, they are going to support one another, that their teammates support them and we don't see an issue inside our dressing room,' says Gillis.
Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS
VANCOUVER — There won't be any clearance sale on Roberto Luongo.
General manager Mike Gillis reiterated Friday that he is prepared to keep Luongo and fellow goalie Cory Schneider all season and would be entirely comfortable doing so.
Gillis also suggested any team wanting Luongo will have to pay the price.
"There is a lot of talk going on," Gillis said in an interview Friday, which was a day off for the players. "But there is this presumption that you pick up the phone and make a trade. Well, it doesn't happen that way and there is usually a long process building up to it and I think Roberto has come in here and has continued to show what a quality person and quality goaltender he is. And if you want to acquire that, you have to pay a price for it."
In other words, in Gillis's opinion, Luongo's solid play so far this season has only served to increase his value on the trade market.
"Every team is discussing options all the time and we're just like them, we are discussing different possibilities all the time," he said. "We're open to those discussions if they can improve our hockey team. Right now, we have two great goalies, we're perfectly happy if we continue this way right through to the end of the playoffs. If something comes our way that we think improves our team in a different way which allows us a better opportunity to win the Stanley Cup, we are going to look at it."
Gillis continues to dismiss suggestions that having both goalies here is, or could become, a significant distraction for the team. He seemed to suggest that in some ways keeping both goalies makes perfect sense, at least for the remainder of this season. A major cut in next year's salary cap would make it nearly impossible next season.
"There is going to be a lot of hockey to be played in a very short period of time," Gillis said. "Look at our schedule, the last two months of the season it's almost like a playoff schedule, without a break between rounds, and then playoffs begin. Our objective is to get into the playoffs as a team, not as individuals, but as a team.
"I have complete confidence these guys are going to play a lot of hockey, they are going to support one another, that their teammates support them and we don't see an issue inside our dressing room. I guess the questions will continue to be asked, but you guys will get the same answers for as long as it takes."
The Canucks, meanwhile, are off to their best start in Gillis's tenure as GM, something he said is the result of a team effort.
"We have been getting a nice contribution from a lot of different people," Gillis said. "Our goaltending has been really solid and our defence has started coming together and limiting the opposition's opportunities. We've had some good starts from Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond and Jordan Schroeder has played well and so has Zack Kassian.
"Our fourth line seems to be holding its own and creating some energy out there, finishing their checks and being involved."
A 4-1 road win Thursday night over the Minnesota Wild has the Canucks at 6-2-2 heading into Saturday night’s home game against the Calgary Flames (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1040). Vancouver has won four straight games and has been getting contributions from throughout its lineup.
Raymond appears to be bouncing back from a couple of tough years and scored his fourth of the season on Thursday night. Hansen got his second in as many games and Chris Higgins potted his first goal of the season.
"I think we are moving in the right direction," Gillis said. "Daniel and Henrik are getting better, Alex Burrows is starting to get better now and Chris Higgins is getting better, so I think if we continue to see that kind of steady improvement from those guys we'll be in good shape."
Starting the season without injured forwards Ryan Kesler and David Booth, the Canucks knew they would need some of that secondary scoring. What wasn't factored into the equation was something of a slow start by the Sedins, who have combined for just 14 points in the first 10 games.
Henrik is without a goal and has just one regular-season goal in his last 33 games. The Canucks captain can't expect to score many shooting as infrequently as he does. Henrik has just 11 shots in 10 games this season.
The Canucks haven't been getting much production — at least goals — from any of their centres. Max Lapierre is the only Vancouver centre with a goal this season.
Gillis is not at all concerned about the Sedins' drop in production in the early going.
"I think they have been improving from the first game," he said. "It's tough, they play a very different type of game than anyone else in the league and timing is a huge issue for them. They make a lot of plays that are in tight and very intricate type of plays that put a lot of pressure on the opposition defence and I'm not concerned at all. I think it is going to take them a little bit more time because of the intricacy of their game."
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