NEWARK, NJ – When did Mike Gillis know he was trading goalie Cory Schneider rather than Roberto Luongo?
“Right after the CBA was ratified,” said the Vancouver Canucks general manager, with a hint of sarcasm.
Luongo signed his 12-year, $64 million contract under the previous CBA, which allowed for absurd terms and abject cap circumvention. The new CBA ratified in 2013 not only eliminated contracts like Luongo’s, but retroactively punished his and other cap-circumventing deals through a “recapture” mechanism.
The Canucks goalie’s contract went from difficult to trade to downright toxic.
So Gillis had two options: Buy out Luongo or trade Schneider.
On Sunday, he traded Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the No. 9 overall pick, which was used on center Bo Hovart of the London Knights.
“You have these discussions over time, and it starts to heat up when you have a deadline like today," said Gillis, who indicated his talks with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello had consisted of the last few days.
Schneider said the Devils were a “pleasant surprise” in the hunt for his services, and that it would be an honor to play with goalie Martin Brodeur until Schneider eventually inherits the mantle.
“I don’t think you’re ever going to replace Marty Brodeur after what he’s done for that organization. He’s just an iconic member of the Devils and hockey. I just hope to create my own identity. I’m not trying to be Marty Brodeur,” said Schneider, via Rich Chere of the Star Ledger.
"I’m trying to be myself and just play the game I know how to play, do the best I can and hopefully bring a Stanley Cup.”
This wasn’t always the plan for Gillis and Schneider.
When Luongo was the established starter, coming off a trip to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and when his contract wasn’t a liability under a new CBA, Schneider was being groomed to move.
That was before Schneider was given a chance to start in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs and entered the 2012-13 season as the starter over Luongo, whom the Canucks were suddenly trying to move despite his no-movement clause.
“Three years ago, we had planned it. Then Cory became a great young goaltender. Roberto took us to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final and won a gold medal. His résumé is impeccable,” said Gillis. “Our plan three years ago was to develop Cory and move him for a high pick, and that’s what we ultimately did.”
The attention now turns to Luongo, who told his friend James Duthie at TSN, “I'm shocked. I have to let this sink in and figure out what I'm going to do."
Luongo, you’ll recall, said his contract “sucks” and sounded resigned to the fact that his time with the Canucks was at an end.
Now, it appears Luongo is back as the starting netminder for the Canucks, having been the Jay Leno to Cory Schneider’s Conan O’Brien.
Duthie reported that the Canucks’ owner broke the news to Luongo, rather than Gillis:
Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini came to Luongo's house in Florida and told him about the Schneider trade moments before it was announced.
— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) June 30, 2013
Does Gillis believe he needs to mend any fences with Luongo?
“Not mending. I need to have a conversation with him, explain what happened. I’m not anticipating there being issues, but if there are, we’ll deal with it.”
Here’s Gillis on the Schneider deal:
Gillis said that despite having the chance to next summer, he will not use a compliance buyout on Luongo then, either.