Best describes both Florida Panther fans and Goaltender Roberto Luongo's reaction to the trade made on Friday evening. The Panthers sent Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks as part of a five-player deal.
Former Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said Saturday he was "very shocked" by the trade that sent him to the Vancouver Canucks a day earlier, claiming he thought the two sides had brokered a multi-year deal hours earlier that would keep him in a Panthers uniform.That's a pretty damning appraisel of the trade made by Florida. Luongo is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. He was the star of the team.
"I'm surprised this whole thing went down," Luongo said.
The deal announced late Friday evening sent Luongo, defenseman Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick in Saturday's NHL entry draft to the Canucks for right winger Todd Bertuzzi, goaltender Alex Auld and defenseman Bryan Allen.
Luongo said he had agreed to come off his demand for a one-year contract if the Panthers would agree to three conditions: the team would state publicly that he would not be traded; that his goaltender coach, Francois Allaire, would be hired; and that Jamie McLennan would be brought back as his backup.
"Once I had relayed that message (through his agent, Gilles Lupien) I felt pretty good," Luongo said. "Then a few hours passed by and I didn't hear anything, and I had a bad feeling in my stomach. Then I found out the deal had been made."
What transpired in that time remains a subject of debate. General Manager Mike Keenan claimed the demands "weren't discussed with me," while coach Jacques Martin said they were discussed but that efforts to reconnect with Lupien were unsuccessful.
Lupien said he couldn't understand why. "Roberto was calling me every 15 minutes. So why can Roberto reach me and the team can't? You ask yourself, 'What the heck are they trying to do?' "
Finally, Lupien said, Luongo called and said Keenan had informed him he'd been traded.
"He was crying," Lupien said. "Roberto wanted to stay there. He has got a new house (in Coral Springs) and the furniture was coming in this week. I was 100 percent sure he wouldn't be traded. But I think this is a trade (Keenan) has wanted to do for three or four months."
Reaction to the deal was mixed at Saturday's NHL entry draft. Typical was Jim Rutherford, GM of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, who said, "On one hand, I love watching him play; he's one of the three best goaltenders in the league. But from a competitive standpoint, he's not easy to play against.
"But Bertuzzi is a pretty good player, too."
Tampa Bay GM Jay Feaster added: "I like to think we became a better hockey team last night without doing a damn thing, because Roberto is out of the Southeast Division. Not having to face him eight times (a year) is a great thing."
Now Roberto Luongo is a Vancouver Canuck. The Panthers on the other hand are still a losing hockey team, six years removed from their last playoff appearance. The road back has just gotten longer.
Open Post- Bright & Early,