Canucks and Beyond

Blast from the Draft Past

06/21/2007 at 3:04pm EDT
364? days ago, there was a whole lot of excitement before the Draft even started: the blockbuster signing of Roberto Luongo, taking him away from Florida.Yesterday, Panthers owner Alan Cohen posted some memories of that event on the team website. Add in the subsequent firing of Mad Mike, and it's just nice to share the memories, don't you think?
QUESTION: It was a year ago this week the club traded Roberto Luongo. Can you assess this trade now and describe exactly what happened? ALAN COHEN: “The bottom line is we tried to sign Roberto for 18 months. The plan I’ve had since day one (as owner) was to sign our kids. I said I wanted guys to stay seven to 10-plus years and build through the draft. I never dreamed we’d trade Roberto. That’s why we tried to sign him for 18 months. He never said there was a problem with the dollars. We just couldn’t get it done. With most everyone else we get the deal done pretty quickly. All he had to do was get out a pen. The contract was there for 18 months.“When it didn’t happen, the staff said (the trade) would make the team better. I really had no choice but to say, ‘Yes.’ As much as I love Roberto - and I have the utmost respect for him - but when the whole staff said trading him would be in the best interest of the Panthers, I said ‘Yes.’“In any trade, when the main part (Todd Bertuzzi) doesn’t play, it will wind up as a bad trade. Along with that, (Alex) Auld, who was the Canucks’ MVP, didn’t fulfill that potential last year with us. If those two guys step up the way Roberto did for Vancouver, it could have been considered a much better deal. But at the time I had to make a decision and the staff believed this would be the best thing to do. If things were turned around and Roberto was the one that got injured and our players performed like we thought, the trade would have obviously looked different.”Q: Is the trade one of the reasons (former GM) Mike Keenan was dismissed?AC: “I don’t really think so. Sometimes it’s just best to move on. Mike is a great hockey mind, but it was just time to have everyone on the same page. Mike was frustrated as well. The inability to get Roberto signed was the responsibility of many. Had Roberto signed his name on the dotted line, he would still be here. He had 18 months to do that. You can pick up a pen anywhere.”

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