Saturday, June 24, 2006

Luongo For Bertuzzi

On the eve of the draft a blockbuster trade was announced. Superstar goalie Roberto Luongo, young defenceman Lukas Krajicek and a 6th round pick have been traded by Florida to Vancouver for power forward Todd Bertuzzi, defenceman Bryan Allen and goaltender Alex Auld.

Vancouver gets the best player in the deal in Roberto Luongo. He is a player I have wondered in the past if he is best player in the NHL. Vancouver coming out best in this trade depeds upon them signing Luongo longterm as he could be an unrestricted free agent in 2007. It was clear that he didn't want to stay in Florida, so they sold him for as much as they could. Todd Bertuzzi has the ability to be one of the best players in the NHL, but he doesn't seem to have mentally recovered from the Steve Moore incident. Allen is a solid defenceman. Auld had a good season in goal for Vancouver, but I am not sold on him as a longterm solution to any team's goalie problems. Krajicek should be a solid NHL player (and he has some potential to do better than that).

The trade all comes down to contracts. Vancouver wins if they can sign Luongo. Otherwise Florida probably wins. Remember the days when the trade was between players instead of contracts?

I'm glad Luongo is out of Florida.

The Bruins made a lot of goalies look good last season, but Luongo has been a real Bruins-beater ever since he came into the league.
Just discovered your blog while viewing draft pix. I used to be a Blackhawk season ticket holder (with a group of guys), but when things kept going from bad to Wirtz, one by one the group lost interest.
My 22-year old son who actually got to go to the old Stadium for a while is still a fan, however.
Found your comments about the "new" league and your debate with another blogger to be informative.
I'm in advertising and marketing and so I have some opinions about what's going on with the game and the league.
I think you have to factor in the numbers of kids who are turning to other things. All major sports are turning into theater. They're being priced out of reach of the average guy. And players move so often that the "home team" concept I grew up with in the 50's is a distant memory.
There are other changes. As America reluctantly joins the rest of the world, soccer's influence grows. Yah, the USA team tanked in the World Cup. But youth soccer is huge (my son grew up playing this and hockey). That's because of the growing Hispanic population. And that population knows nothing about hockey and cares less.
Additionally, our urban black population cares little about the game. When I was a youth coach, we played some inner city teams and our club tried to recruit and encourage African American players. But at the youth level, it's an expensive least if you play in an area where free outdoor facilities are rare.
Net: you're right about the need for hockey versions of the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers. But baseball critics often point out that a league that doesn't encourage parity has problems as well.
The basic issue is that hockey has not succeeded in becoming an American sport, nor has it succeeded in capturing the youth market.
I was fortunate having moved to Wisconsin (originally from here) just in time to see the Badgers win - men and women. Those games were great!
At the end of the day, a team succeeds when it succeeds at becoming a "home town" team, win or lose. Witness the Cubs. There is civic pride and lots of kids at the games.
I can't comment on every team, but in Chicago, the Hawks have failed miserably at this.
Perhaps the large number of Americans chosen in the draft will help. Too bad it has to be this way. But there you go.
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