Bertuzzi Finally On the Move
VANCOUVER--Two years and almost four months later, the damage and fallout of one terrible decision has been extraordinary.
Since Todd Bertuzzi chose to goon Steve Moore to the ice on March 8, 2004, the principles have been falling like dominos.
Moore has never played again. Vancouver GM Brian Burke was fired. Canucks head coach Marc Crawford was fired.
And, finally, Bertuzzi was, in effect fired, by the Canucks, or at least "relieved of his duties," although formally the transaction will read he was traded to Florida along with defenceman Bryan Allen and goalie Alex Auld for a package of players, but most important, goalie Roberto Luongo.
The Canucks never, ever wanted it to work out this way. Even with all evidence indicating that Bertuzzi would never be a star again in B.C., the Canucks tried one more time to build their team around him, and watched the 2005-06 season go down the drain as a result.
Seven years after they couldn't work it out with Pavel Bure and sent him packing to the Panthers, this time its the 31-year-old Bertuzzi who will be sent in exile to south Florida to try and reclaim the scent of greatness that once surrounded him.
One suspects he won't. But he might.
Just to get rid of Big Bert, the Canucks have taken a large gamble. If Luongo won't sign a long-term deal and opts for free agency next summer, GM Dave Nonis will have given up a lot for a little.
And there's no guarantee Luongo will sign. But that was the cost of moving Bertuzzi, and if Luongo does sign, this will be a large win for Vancouver.
Florida, on the other hand, has changed its team significantly. The Panthers are weaker today at the most important position in the game and have added a compromised player who isn't a kid anymore and a big defenceman, Allen, who is still proving he can be a dependable regular.
With Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss and Anthony Stewart, the Panthers have lots of young talent. Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk and Martin Gelinas constitute a good veteran core. Jacques Martin is a very good coach.
But this is a team that missed the Eastern Conference playoffs by seven points and now has to either find a goalie or hope that Auld is a bona fide starter. Moreover, they look big and bruising, rather than quick and speedy as many teams believe you have to be in the "new" NHL.
You have to believe that in the short-term, or at least for next season, the Canucks get the better of this deal because they could, in theory, have the best goalie in the conference and can now put the entire Bertuzzi-Moore mess behind them. Luongo is only 27, so if he can be signed long-term, the Canucks have solved their goaltending issues for five years or more.
Interestingly, while he initially said he would only sign a one-year contract, he said Saturday he believed he was close to a new four-year deal with the Panthers on Friday before he was informed he'd been traded to Vancouver. Luongo said he had three conditions for staying in Florida, starting with the team making a public statement that he wouldn't be traded since he is too young to receive a no-trade clause in his contract.
Luongo also wanted the team to hire his former goalie coach, Francois Allaire, once his contract expired in Anaheim, and he also wanted Jamie McLennan retained as the Panthers' No. 2 goalie.
Instead of meeting those condition, GM Mike Keenan traded him. But from a Canuck perspective, it at least indicates he may be open to the notion of a multi-year contract.
Nonis said Saturday he intends to try to sign Luongo now, but that he didn't know the terms of the contract the goalie was negotiating with Florida. Luongo had previously turned down a four-year, $24 million deal.
Meanwhile, unless Bertuzzi is in the running for the Rocket Richard Trophy next season and the Panthers are in a solid playoff position by the winter, its hard to see how the Panthers end up winning this trade.
DRAFT NOTES: After defenceman Erik Johnson went first overall Saturday, it was all about forwards until L.A. took goalie Jonathan Bernier with the 11th pick. . .League officials say 12 teams will receive revenue sharing cheques ranging from $200,000-300,000 to upwards of $13 million. The recipient of the most help is expected to be not Pittsburgh, but Nashville. No Canadian teams will require revenue sharing. . .Five teams exceeded the $39 million cap, two because of performance bonuses and three because of long-term injury costs. . .One reason Colorado was willing to trade Alex Tanguay to a divisional rival? Tanguay apparently wants $5 million a season. . .For those who consider it a crime Jaromir Jagr didn't win the Hart, I didn't give my first place vote to Jagr or Joe Thornton. It went to the superb Scott Niedermayer, who should have won the Hart and Norris. That said, I respect the differing opinion of others without accusing them of some sort of electoral fraud. . .Minnesota may be signalling a change in its low-payroll ways by adding Pavol Demitra and his $4.5 million salary. It also may be a way of convincing winger Marian Gaborik to stay. . .It seems likely the Leafs will end up with another substantial name to coach their top farm club. Wayne Fleming, who recently quit as a Flyers assistant, would be an excellent choice, as would junior coach Peter DeBoer. . .Morris Lukowich, who once played for Leaf GM John Ferguson's dad in Winnipeg, may be in the running for an assistant's job with the Leafs.