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Four Articles on the Panthers/Luongo

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First an opinion piece on the Luongo trade.

JOSEPH: Luongo can only blame himself
Published June 26, 2006

Everything was never good enough for Roberto Luongo.

Not $30 million, not a multiyear deal, not the signing of his friend Olli Jokinen or the clear desire of Panthers management to build a winner with Luongo as the star.

To put it succinctly, if Luongo really wanted to stay a Panther, he had an odd way of showing it.

It's easy to beat up on management in the wake of Luongo's departure, but it's wrong. For more than two years, ownership and General Manager Mike Keenan tried to work out a deal that would keep Luongo a Panther through 2010. They wanted nothing less than Luongo at the BankAtlantic Center come the playoffs next spring.

But, in the end, this wasn't just about Luongo and agent Gilles Lupien getting a deal done, it was about gaining control. Luongo just didn't want to play goal in South Florida, he wanted to be coach and GM, too.

Think about it: When Luongo said he wanted money, the Panthers offered $5 million a year. When that wasn't enough, he was offered $6 million. When Luongo said he wanted a multi-year deal, they offered five years. When he wanted to see a commitment to winning by the Panthers, management signed Jokinen, held on to promising talent like Jay Bouwmeester and Nathan Horton, and signed veterans like Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk.

The Panthers did everything but genuflect to Luongo. Ownership even promised him he wouldn't be traded until a no-trade clause could be inserted into his contract in July of 2007.

Still, Luongo and/or Lupien weren't happy. Still, they wanted more.

In the end, Luongo and Lupien demanded the Panthers publicly state their intentions of not trading him until a no-trade clause could be written into his contract, that they hire his goalie coach from Montreal and re-sign backup goalie Jamie McLennan.

What was next? Was Luongo going to ask the Panthers to bring in someone to separate his green M&M's from the rest of the bag?

His final demands, especially his desire of management to go before cameras to state he wouldn't be traded, were, in the end, curious and insulting.

Does anyone recall Dan Marino ever asking Dolphins ownership to go before cameras and promise to bring in a 1,200-yard rusher? Has Shaquille O'Neal demanded Alonzo Mourning return as his backup?

In fact, O'Neal cut $10 million a year off his contract to help the Heat win a championship. Luongo demanded the Panthers give him more money and re-sign his friend, a mediocre backup goalie they couldn't rely on last season.

Still, the Panthers tried. Realizing Luongo and Lupien didn't trust negotiating with Keenan, the Panthers brought in coach Jacques Martin and CEO Michael Yormark to do the dealing. Still, it wasn't enough.

And now Luongo is gone, and in return from Vancouver the Panthers get a troubled power forward in Todd Bertuzzi, a promising goalie in Alex Auld and a big defenseman in Bryan Allen.

But Bertuzzi and Auld are the keys. If Bertuzzi can be the power forward the Panthers have desperately needed for several years creating space for Jokinen and Horton and drawing penalties and Auld can continue growing in goal, the Panthers still are on track to be a playoff contender. The deal gets even better if Bertuzzi can draw unrestricted Vancouver defenseman Ed Jovanovski back to South Florida.

Would it have been nice to have Luongo in goal next season? Sure. But a 22-year-old rookie goalie just delivered the Stanley Cup to Carolina and Dwayne Roloson, relegated to the bench in Minnesota, brought Edmonton to the Finals.

You see anything is possible ... unless everything is not enough.

Dave Joseph can be reached at djoseph@sun-sentinel.com.

Thank god he wrote this piece to refute Dave Hyde's disgusting piece about the trade.

Here are the three major newspapers down here's articles from today.

Panthers' wish list: defenseman, No. 2 goalie

By Brian Biggane

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Panthers move into the next phase of their off-season roster restructuring today, the deadline to make qualifying offers to the team's 11 restricted free agents.

Five players fall into what General Manager Mike Keenan termed the "obvious" category: forwards Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss, and defensemen Jay Bouwmeester, Mike Van Ryn and Branislav Mezei. Keenan also confirmed at Saturday's NHL entry draft he will qualify defenseman Alexei Semenov.

Of the remaining five, it is likely that forwards Serge Payer and Juraj Kolnik will receive offers, and forward Jon Sim and defensemen Steve Montador and Ric Jackman will not. Players who aren't qualified become unrestricted free agents July 1.

Sim and Montador played significant minutes last season, but likely will be passed by as Keenan continues his efforts to add depth to the roster.

With Keenan still hoping to add a high-end defenseman during the free-agency period that begins Saturday former Panther Ed Jovanovski is almost certainly the player being targeted there are 23 candidates for roster spots:

Left wing Gary Roberts, Martin Gelinas, Rostislav Olesz, Ville Peltonen, Gregory Campbell.

Center Olli Jokinen, Joe Nieuwendyk, Stephen Weiss, Chris Gratton, Serge Payer.

Right wing Todd Bertuzzi, Nathan Horton, Jozef Stumpel, Juraj Kolnik, Anthony Stewart.

Defensemen Jay Bouwmeester, Bryan Allen, Mike Van Ryn, Branislav Mezei, Sean Hill, Joel Kwiatkowski, Alexei Semenov.

Goaltender Alex Auld, Craig Anderson.

Jokinen said the forward group is clearly the best the team has had during his six years in Florida.

"There's a lot of depth now," he said. "It looks really, really good for us up front. Mike and Jacques (coach Jacques Martin) want to make every possible move to improve the team."

Jokinen, who has been battling a severe cold since returning to his native Finland this month, said he was extremely pleased with the signing of Peltonen. They played together on Finland's Olympic team.

"He's a legend over here," Jokinen said. "If you ask Finns to name the top five Finnish hockey players, he'll be on the list every time. He's going to help our hockey team."

Peltonen, 33, came up short of expectations in previous stints with San Jose and Nashville.

"He wants to show everyone he's an NHL player," Jokinen said.

Last look at Luongo: According to multiple NHL sources, one of the main reasons the Panthers ultimately decided to trade Roberto Luongo on Friday was that his agent, Gilles Lupien, came back asking for more money after the two sides had agreed to a four-year, $25 million deal.

"The parameters (of the deal) kept changing, and we finally just had enough," said a Panthers source, who added that the team was put off by the list of demands Luongo put forth as conditions to sign. "It made him look like a prima donna."

One of Luongo's demands was to bring in Francois Allaire as goaltender coach, but Allaire is under contract to Anaheim through the end of the month. Ducks General Manager Brian Burke said if the Panthers had accepted the demand he would have considered filing a tampering charge.

Newfound depth in goal: It wasn't long ago that the Panthers were woefully short of both goaltending depth and prospects. The trade for Anderson and the drafting of Marc Cheverie in the seventh round Saturday changed that.

Keenan said Anderson is likely more a third-stringer than a backup, and he likely will pursue a No. 2 goaltender in free agency. But 2004 pick David Shantz, 2005 picks Brian Foster and Tyler Plante and Cheverie offer multiple options.


Keenan calls trade `huge move for us'
Panthers GM Mike Keenan was excited about acquiring Todd Bertuzzi for Roberto Luongo, and the team's next moves might come on the free agent market.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Panthers general manager Mike Keenan walked the floor of GM Place on Saturday night, shaking hands and slapping backs. Some in the stands shouted words of encouragement, Keenan waving and smiling the entire time.

Yes, Mike Keenan was in his element at the NHL Draft. The Keenan who isn't afraid to change the face of a franchise had done so again, trading Roberto Luongo to the hometown Canucks for controversial winger Todd Bertuzzi.

Keenan has done this before, trading for Chris Chelios and Chris Pronger through the years. Friday, he traded for Bertuzzi for the second time.

''This is a huge move for us,'' Keenan said. ``It was a decision we had to make as an organization and as a franchise. We're trying to make our team better collectively.''

With Keenan and coach Jacques Martin running things, the Panthers don't seem to be the franchise treading water anymore. The franchise hasn't been to the playoffs since New Jersey swept the Cats in the opening round in 2000. Florida hasn't won a playoff series since beating Pittsburgh for the Eastern Conference title in 1996.

So where is this team going? Keenan and Martin say the Panthers are better today than they were when they arrived in Vancouver. The team showed signs of life in what ended up being a disappointing 2005-06 season and was a team on the cusp of the postseason.

The free agency signing period kicks off this week, and the Panthers say they are going to be in the middle of it. Ed Jovanovksi, the Panthers' former first-round pick, is rumored to be headed back to South Florida. Pronger says he wants out of Edmonton, and you can bet Keenan picked up on that pretty quickly.

''We said before the trade we were really going to look hard at players available in free agency,'' he said. ``If it's a good fit for us, we'll certainly be looking at the possibilities to make our team better.''

Florida now has two goalies in the fold in Alex Auld and Craig Anderson, neither of whom will be confused with Luongo. The Panthers might even secure another netminder off the market.

With Bertuzzi in the fold, Florida's offense looks like it will be much improved. The Panthers already added Finland's Ville Peltonen and will get injured center Stephen Weiss back this season.

Add Bertuzzi to a group of veteran forwards that includes Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Chris Gratton, Martin Gelinas and Jozef Stumpel, and Florida's lines look pretty good. Nathan Horton and Rostislav Olesz could also have breakout years to help things along.

''We looked at this as making some improvements,'' Martin said.

Saturday night was the NHL Draft, and Keenan watched his group of scouts select a group of young men who might not ever make it to the NHL.

No matter. Though this weekend was about the future, it was more about next season and not one year down the road.

''We're going to miss Roberto, but I think we got a lot of good players in return,'' defenseman Steve Montador said Saturday. ``We're looking pretty good right now.''


Panthers wrap up very busy weekend

No regrets over trade of goaltender

By Steve Gorten
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted June 26 2006

VANCOUVER -- The 2006 NHL Draft will be remembered for the Panthers' stunning trade of Roberto Luongo to the host team the night before.

It was a move so celebrated here that about an hour after the trade was announced one Canucks fan wore a vintage Vancouver sweater with Luongo's name written in black marker on the back. Saturday the Panthers got a rousing ovation when they were announced before the draft and again before their first pick.

But the Panthers felt like winners, too, having acquired power forward Todd Bertuzzi, goalie Alex Auld and defenseman Bryan Allen in the deal.

"We feel we've improved our team," Panthers General Manager Mike Keenan said after the draft at General Motors Place. "Those are always difficult trades to make when it involves players of that caliber, but we feel coming out of this draft we're a better hockey club today than going into the draft."

There was no-second guessing on Saturday.

"I feel very confident because we evaluated our decision very thoroughly and under the circumstances made the decision to make the trade," Keenan said. "We knew a lot about the people we were acquiring and we're very comfortable with them."

The Panthers were equally pleased with the moves they made during the draft, starting with their choice of 18-year-old forward Michael Frolik from the Czech Republic at 10th overall and ending with goalie Marc Cheverie at 193rd overall.

That seventh-round pick was originally a fifth-rounder, but because the Panthers decided they will extend a qualifying offer to defenseman Alexei Semenov, acquired in a midseason trade with Edmonton, the teams swapped spots under a condition of that trade.

Saturday, after selecting right wing Brady Calla in the third round (73rd overall) and defenseman Michael Caruso in the fourth (103rd), the Panthers made two trades.

They swapped their fourth-rounder next year for Pittsburgh's fourth-rounder this year to pick defenseman Derrick LaPoint, then gave a sixth-round pick in 2008 to Chicago for goalie Craig Anderson. Anderson was 4-4 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .906 save percentage this past season and has played 56 career NHL games in three-plus seasons.

"He's got some experience, and certainly it adds the depth we're looking for," Keenan said, adding the team will continue to explore options in free agency.

In the sixth round, 155th overall, they selected defenseman Peter Aston from the Ontario Hockey League.

While the draft wasn't one of the most talented overall, Keenan said, the Panthers did fill needs. They acquired a pick to snag LaPoint after being surprised to still see him on the board, said Florida director of scouting Scott Luce. LaPoint is "really raw" but is expected to develop after attending the University of North Dakota.

In the first round, the Panthers entertained offers to move down, but had targeted Frolik, Luce said. While Frolik needs to get stronger, Luce said he's not a project and could be ready after one year likely in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Frolik, who Luce said has a little more offensive upside than 2004 draft pick Rostislav Olesz, had just two goals and nine points in 48 games last season in the Czech Elite League.

"You have to remember, he played with men, and that's a big difference with him playing against his peers," Keenan said. "His numbers would be more impressive than they are, but there's great value in the experience he acquired."


Luongo, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July 2007, didn't rule out returning to the Panthers then, but said Saturday night, "At this point, I can't see that happening ever after what happened. I'm very hurt about the situation." ...

The Panthers have until 5 p.m. today to make qualifying offers to their restricted free agents or they will become unrestricted. Winger Jon Sim said Saturday the Panthers have told him they don't plan to make him a qualifying offer but may still re-sign him.

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good read of articles, I still think it is a bad trade to let a goalie like that slip away.

specially for a RFA, a UFA and a young goalie back with alot less potential.

Will we be better short term? Maybe. But long term this could be crushing.

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The only person who could be blamed for this is Loungo. The panthers were giving him everything he wanted. Oh well I really like the package we got in return.

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