Nearly two months after the Vancouver Canucks surprised the hockey world by shipping goaltender Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils, Roberto Luongo finally broke his silence.
In a lengthy interview with TSN's James Duthie, Luongo acknowledged his shock that Schneider was dealt instead of him and that he wasn't consulted by Canucks management before the trade took place.
Luongo had been the subject of trade speculation since last summer, when he requested a trade if it would mutually benefit both sides. Management unsuccessfully shopped him, culminating in his post-trade deadline complaint that his lengthy, expensive contract hurt his trade value.
One surprising detail that emerged from the interview was Luongo's admission he contacted the NHLPA about voiding his contract with the Canucks, thus allowing him to sign a cheaper, shorter deal with another club. The fact he's returning to Vancouver suggests that wasn't a workable option.
The veteran netminder seemed to dance around Duthie's question if he still wished to be traded. “I don't have a crystal ball,” he said, adding that wherever he is, he'll be “100 percent committed to that place,” which includes Vancouver.
Returning to the Canucks is Luongo's only option at this point. Refusing to report would result in a suspension and jeopardize his hopes of playing for Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics. Retirement is also out of the question.
His situation, however, will keep his name in the rumor mill this coming season. Regaining his stellar form could bolster his trade value, while failing to do so will stoke anticipation of a compliance buyout next June.
WHETHER MILLER STAYS OR GOES, IT’LL STAY ON THE DOWN LOW
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller has also been a fixture in this year's trade rumor mill, but unlike Luongo, he's taking a low-key approach to the situation.
In a recent interview with NHL.com's Corey Masisak, Miller acknowledged management's willingness to entertain trade offers for him and Thomas Vanek, but said he didn't want his situation to play out in the public eye.
Since winning the Vezina Trophy in 2010, Miller's performance has declined as injuries and poor team defense took their toll. Masisak noted, however, the 33-year-old netminder hasn't requested a trade or expressed unhappiness or frustration.
Miller is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer and given the Sabres commitment to rebuilding, his days in Buffalo appear to be numbered. He hasn't ruled out re-signing with them, though he admitted management hasn't approached him about a new contract.
A stronger performance by Miller this season could tempt the Sabres to open contract talks, but he would have to accept a shorter, cheaper deal. Otherwise, he'll become one of the biggest names in next summer's free agent market.
TIME TICKING ON PIETRANGELO CONTRACT
St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is trying to avoid his contract status from becoming a distraction.
Attending Team Canada's Olympic orientation camp in Calgary this week, Pietrangelo told TSN's Mark Masters he's hoping to re-sign with the Blues before training camp opens on Sept. 11.
Masters noted the possibility of a contract holdout grows the longer Pietrangelo remains unsigned, but the 23-year-old blueliner said he “wasn't even thinking about holding out” and was keeping his focus instead on training for the coming season.
Pietrangelo might not be thinking about a holdout now, but if he's still unsigned when training camp opens in two weeks, he could give it more serious thought.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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