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Roberto Luongo, NHLPA talked about voiding his contract; so why didn’t he?

Greg Wyshynski
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Roberto Luongo’s press liaison James Duthie of TSN revealed on Friday that there will be a 2-part interview with the Vancouver Canucks goaltender on SportsCentre over the next two days. Among the revelations:

“Luongo also reveals that in May he had serious talks with the NHLPA about the possibility of voiding his deal and walking away from 40m.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that heard Luongo exclaim “my contract sucks” after he wasn’t moved at the NHL trade deadline, followed by "I'd scrap it if I could.”

So, uh … why didn’t he, if talks between the netminder and the players’ association were that serious?

The easy answer: There are 40 million reasons why he shouldn’t. And unlike former New Jersey Devils forwards, there isn’t a Russian oil baron ready to pick up the tab for his terminated contract. At least we don’t think there is.

The trickier answer: Because actually voiding that contract wasn’t something Luongo could do without consequences.

Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun spelled out the repercussions last April:

If Luongo is serious about escaping his contract, he can withhold services, which would allow the Canucks to terminate the deal. But the team would first have to place him on waivers, meaning Luongo would have no input on where he plays and could be claimed for a fee of $125.

Before things got desperate for Luongo, he was willing to leverage his no-trade clause against potential moves, at least reportedly. Controlling his hockey future was paramount; he'd lose that privilege with this gambit.

Tony Gallagher went one step further:

In reality, if Luongo didn't want to face another season of this and refused to report, the team would suspend him, not have to pay him, and wait until he got tired of waiting. So he won't be doing that - it would take all the financial pressure off Vancouver. But if he wanted to be true to his emotional word of Wednesday, he could do it.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that Luongo sought information about voiding his contract, or that he ultimately didn’t.

Nor should we be surprised that Luongo’s proxies in the media are parroting this news as an example of his frustration, persecution as well as his dedication to the game, without mentioning that it’s easier to walk away from $40 million when you’ve already earned $23 million in the last three seasons, on top of the $27 million in your previous contract.

Luongo, to his credit, remains the only guy who doesn’t take a fawning, sympathetic view of his contract.

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