After a three-day holiday—both for the Canucks and for me, apparently, as I’ve been pretty much ignoring my favorite team around here for most of the week—the team is back in action tonight against the Edmonton Oilers.
But before that, let’s round up the Canucks news this week. Which is pretty easy—there’s only two topics anyone is talking about.
- Roberto Luongo— Luongo’s agent denied saying back in November that his own personal-puck-stopping-retirement-plan was going to be out 4-5 weeks. But now that Luongo is no longer traveling with the team and said to be “sore” (code-speak for “Oh, #$%!” in Vancouver) that original estimate is looking more believable three weeks into his injury. That was, believable until last night when Alex Burrows seemed to let it ‘slip’ on TV that Luongo might be out another 4-6 weeks? (depending how you want to interpret his remarks). So bottom line: it’s the perfect time to buy a jersey with Schneider-Sanford’s name on it. (Update: Luongo out “indefinitely” - more below).
- Mats Sundin— Sundin’s agent came out with the
yawner breaking news that Sundin will be signing with a team by December 15th. Or before Christmas. Or perhaps maybe possibly definitely this weekend. (You decide.) And where will he go? NYR fans insist Mats dreams of Broadway; Chicago columnists insist Mats would be a bad example for their young stars, so forgettaboutit; and Montreal Canadians fans… I think they give up. But who knows.
But Vancouver is undeniably a possibility still. Matthew Sekeres, in a hit-and-miss article that came out Friday in the Globe & Mail, put it (mostly) accurately when he wrote this:
Still, it has become clear that the Vancouver Canucks are the only team with the requisite cap space and financial security to sign Sundin for big money and not have to worry about the crumbling economy or exceeding the NHL spending limit. The Rangers, Canadiens, Blackhawks and other would-be suitors would have to trade substantial salaries away in the next few days to match Vancouver’s offer.
The Canucks have roughly $8 million U.S. in cap space, and more than 17,000 season-ticket holders with a waiting list of roughly 8,000.
So, either Sundin is going to sign with the Canucks (for the pro-rated annual salary of $10-million U.S.), or he is going to take much, much less to play with the Rangers, or Montreal or Chicago.
I think he’s right in saying that Vancouver may be in the best financial position to take on Sundin, not just this year but for a second season, especially with an expected falling salary-cap. The NYR offer a solid team and the bright lights of Manhattan, but I’m not sure Sundin solves their other problems. Plus they’ve got some serious cap-juggling to do if they want him that badly.
(Note: You can also add this to the Sundin-to-Vancouver rumor mix—RDS yesterday claimed to have a source informing them that Sunin was most likely coming to Vancouver. But hell, the same article also acknowledged that no decision has actually been made, so I wouldn’t put much weight on that.)
But as for Sekeres’ contention that Vancouver is somehow immune from a “crumbling economy”... I can’t quite fathom what he’s talking about. Vancouver’s 8,000 back-ordered season ticket holder requests are a product of a healthy economy, not one where thousands are expected to lose their jobs in the coming year. Things can change mighty quickly, and even Stanley Cup winning markets are not immune much less Vancouver.
Anyway, enough of that. Two final housekeeping issues:
- I’ll be on ‘Inside Hockey’ on XM Radio (etc) at about 11:25 am PT today. I imagine the Roberto Sundin stories will be the primary topics, although we just might fit some Trevor Linden talk in there, too!
- The Canucks.com Fanzone is doing another liveblog tonight, and I’ll be one of your hosts again. So please join me and everyone else at game time. Oilers trash talk is like poetry to me… ;)
Update 1:32pm PT:
More on Luongo today from Jim Jamieson via the National Post—
Vancouver Canucks star goaltender Roberto Luongo has suffered a setback in his rehab of a groin injury he suffered nearly three weeks ago.
And, if the aggravation to the injury is as serious as reports on Vancouver TV and radio stations say, the Canucks captain and cornerstone player could be out of action for a long time.
Just how Luongo’s uncertain status will affect the Canucks’ pursuit of free agent centre Mats Sundin — who is close to making a final decision on where he will play this season — is open to question.
If the injury is longer term, it also begs the question of whether the Canucks decided to stick with promoted back-up Curtis Sanford or trade for another goaltender.
Luongo didn’t travel here with the team on Friday and head coach Alain Vigneault said the Canucks’ medical staff has decided to pull the goalie from on-ice workouts due to recurring soreness in the injured area.
He’ll stay off the ice indefinitely, Vigneault said.
This is mostly what I posted earlier, except that “indefinitely” is a new one; and this is the first I’ve heard that replacing Sanford is a viable possibility. Personally, I really doubt that’s going to happen.