When the NHL lockout finally ends, the next phase of Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo's career begins. It's expected he'll be traded as Cory Schneider inherits the team's starting goaltender gig. The most widely speculated destination? The Toronto Maple Leafs.
That said, isn't selling a Luongo Leafs jersey in an Ontario sporting goods store just a little presumptuous?
That photo was captured by Andrew (@manbearpiglpu) at Pro Image at the Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, and quickly spread around social media networks — including on Luongo's unofficial (but frequently confirmed) Twitter feed:
The presumptuous jersey has been seen here and there in the NHL's history. Vincent Lecavalier Montreal Canadiens jerseys were seen for sale around the NHL All-Star Game. The Philadelphia Flyers most recently had jerseys for Shane Doan created before he re-signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, although they weren't for sale.
Why did Pro Image decide to start selling Roberto Luongo Leafs jerseys before the team can even trade for him? We decided to find out.
First off, it's a Luongo jersey, rather than jersey(s). And you can thank the lockout for it.
It went up about two weeks ago, as Leafs jerseys (or really anything hockey) haven't been moving during the work stoppage. One of the store's owners decided to create something to garner a little buzz and attract some eyes to the hockey merch: a sweater for Roberto Luongo, No. 1, Leafs goalie.
"It's just like a conversation thing we got going on. Trying to get people to talk about something other than the lockout," said Luigi Taddeo of Pro Image.
So they created one jersey and stuck it on a rack of non-Luongo jerseys to make it look like a full shipment had arrived. Soon, they had customers coming in uttering "Did Luongo just get traded to the Leafs?!"
"It's pretty easy to change if things don't work out," said Taddeo.
It is actually for sale, although they haven't sold one yet. Leafs player sweaters run $179.99 on the Pro Image website — and they're in-store for 30-percent off the retail price, like the other NHL jerseys available.
The discounts are a necessity to move product, as the lockout's been particularly frustrating for Toronto-based sports retailers. The 2013 Winter Classic was to feature the Leafs in a new sweater for the game — which would have been a windfall for places like Pro Image.
"Last year, we had record sales in October. The Leafs had just released a retro third jersey," said Taddeo. "People like to make fun of Leafs fans, but there are no other fans that support their team like Leafs fans do."
Hence, when the lockout ends, Taddeo's hoping that Roberto Luongo's tenure with the Leafs begins.
"If Luongo were to ever be traded to the Leafs, it would be one of the better selling jerseys that we've had," he said.
And just imagine how many they'll move when he leads them to the Cup! (Just carrying the theme of presumption to its illogical conclusion here ...)
s/t to Andrew (@manbearpiglpu)