Death, taxes and Roberto Luongo trade talk.
It’s widely known that the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as several other teams, attempted to acquire Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks prior to the 2013 NHL Draft. However, a deal to send Luongo out of town never came to fruition and the Canucks shipped their other netminder, Cory Schneider, to the New Jersey Devils instead.
If you bought into the rumours and reports at the time, the Leafs were the frontrunners to land Luongo. The 2010 Olympic gold medallist firmly believed he was on his way to the centre of the hockey universe.
“I was pretty sure I was going to end up there. I was pretty shocked and surprised when I didn’t,” Luongo told the Toronto Sun.
Before joining the Leafs organization as director of hockey operations in 2008, Dave Nonis – the Leafs current general manager – was the Canucks GM and the man who brought Luongo to Vancouver. In 2006, Nonis acquired Luongo from the Florida Panthers in what was considered a one-sided trade. Nonis was unsuccessful in acquiring the Montreal native for a second time, though.
“It’s flattering that somebody holds you in that high regard. It’s appreciated, of course,” Luongo said. “I respect Dave a lot. It’s nice sometimes to hear things like that from around the league about you, especially guys higher up top like general managers.”
In hindsight, the non-deal has worked out well for both teams. Luongo is 7-4-1 with a goals-against average of 2.46 and save percentage of .906 so far this season. Meanwhile, the Leafs ended up acquiring Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings to aid their goaltending situation, and he’s started the season 6-4 with a 2.31 GAA and .933 save percentage.
“A lot has happened over the past year-and-a-half, two years,” Luongo added. “To be honest, I’m just excited to be playing again and to play every night.”
The Canucks and Leafs meet for the first time this season on Saturday at Rogers Arena; they also play each other at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 8.