Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Roberto Luongo looking over the shoulders of Panthers goalies Clemmensen and Theodore

From Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel after José and a few others worked out at the Panthers practice facility this morning.

Article is found here.

Disgruntled Canucks goalie practices in Panthers facility and wants to be traded back here where he lives in offseason.


In a bizarre, slightly uncomfortable scene at Saveology.com Iceplex Tuesday morning, current Panthers goalie tandem Scott Clemmensen and Jose Theodore were beginning an informal practice with several teammates just moments after estranged Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo had finished his own skate.

Luongo has made it clear that since Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis promoted goalie Cory Schneider to starter with a three-year, $12 million contract extension, that he wants to be traded to the Panthers, the franchise he established his All-Star credentials with from 2001-06 and back to an area he still maintains an offseason residence with his wife and two young children.

So, Luongo, who practices here every offseason, literally, was about to sneak out the back door so he wouldn't create an awkward situation for Clemmensen and fellow Quebec native Theodore, whose job he covets. Luongo spoke to the Sun Sentinel before leaving.

"It's been a tough summer, not knowing what's going to happen,'' said Luongo, 33, while changing in the cramped visitor's locker room a few feet from where several Panthers were skating in an unofficial practice.

"It's tough to not know what your future is going to be with your family and everything. There were a couple of stressful moments, but we're still here and everything's good.

"[The Panthers] makes sense for myself, for my career and my family,'' added Luongo, who still has 10 years at $5.33 million per remaining on his deal. "That being said. There's obvious other options as well. This is a preferred location for obvious reasons but I'm not shutting the door on other possibilities if it comes up.''

Luongo has been linked to the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs, both with glaring needs for an elite goalie. Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon, who signed Clemmensen to a two-year contract extension for $2.4 million this summer and has Theodore under contract for one more year at $1.5 million, has repeatedly said he's content with his current goalie trio, that includes promising Swede Jacob Markstrom.

While the involved parties are not allowed to discuss players under contract with another team, Tallon hasn't ruled out adding Luongo if the price is right. That price obviously doesn't include any of the Panthers promising prospects such as Quinton Howden, Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Petrovic.

Meanwhile, neither Theodore nor Clemmensen, both 35, are overly concerned with Luongo looking over their shoulders because both are under contract, plus Theodore has a no-trade clause.

Theodore, who had an outstanding comeback season, going 22-16-11 with a 2.46 goals-against average, has played for four teams in the last five years, so he's more than ready to establish roots for himself and his family. He wouldn't say if Tallon has asked him to waive his no-trade clause.

"At this point there's no use talking about speculation,'' Theodore said after a morning skate last week. "It's been a quiet summer for me. I didn't have to make any tough decisions on where to sign or where to go, a good quiet summer. I didn't really follow what went on. I was back home just relaxing and working out with my personal trainer.

"I want to retire here for sure. All the players were part of the process last year and it was a good start. I feel like I've got a lot more years in front of me and this is the place. I like the fans; I like where the team is going, the organization, so obviously, I want to be part of that process.''

Clemmensen, who enjoyed one of his finest seasons, going 14-6-6 with a 2.57 goals-against-average, is also wants to remain with the Panthers.

"It's useless energy wasted on speculating what might happen with him,'' Clemmensen said of Luongo. "We pretty much have the same lineup that we had last year, as far as goalies are concerned. I feel like we did a great job last year, the three of us who played at this level anyway. I feel confident and very excited to be in the same kind of scenario.''

Ironically, Luongo practiced with another former Panthers goalie – Tomas Vokoun – who was replaced by Theodore after signing with the Capitals last year. Vokoun is now in a backup situation with the Penguins.

At this point, all of the aforementioned goalies as well as their NHL brethren are in limbo with the owner's lockout looming when the current CBA expires on Sept. 15.

"It's awkward,'' Luongo said of possibly running into Theodore. "You don't like to hear rumors. It kind of puts us a little bit in the same boat. That's the business. Unfortunately, nobody likes to get traded. Nobody likes to move around. You wish you could start and end your career in the same city, but unfortunately this is a tough business and these things happen.''

Luongo, still the Panthers all-time leading goalie in games played (317), victories (108) and shutouts (26), said he hasn't spoken with Gillis recently, but he believes that his boss is waiting for the best deal. One thing Luongo knows for certain is that he isn't ready to be a backup, despite his less-than-sterling playoff results in recent years.

"Obviously, I want to start. That's a given,'' said Luongo, an avid cyclist who often rides to Palm Beach and back to his home in Parkland as part of training regimen.

"You're dealt different situations in life. You've got to handle them the right way. I don't know what's going to happen this year. The only thing I could do is work hard and have a positive atittude. At the end of the day, I'm sure everything is going to work out.''

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