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(Article)Botchford:Luongo's level of happiness isn't what matters, it's whether or not he's motivated


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VANCOUVER — It’s mid-August, and the most-asked question in the city this summer still sits there, without an answer.

Is Roberto Luongo happy?

Even Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman tripped over it in an otherwise silky smooth co-hosting gig Wednesday on TEAM 1040’s midday show.

"I’m not sure what the definition of happiness is, even when one is ecstatic," Gilman said on air.

But, in defence of Gilman, how the heck would he know?

Also, who cares?

Is there any correlation between happiness and greatness?

Luongo oozes ambition. He burns for a Stanley Cup. And another Olympic gold medal.

He has long been motivated by the chips he hinges to his shoulders, not his level of happiness.

When he got to the Florida Panthers in 2000, it was about erasing a caveat. Luongo loathed the label he was one of the game’s best "young" goalies. When he got to Vancouver in 2006, it was about proving he could get a team to the postseason, and then win a playoff game.

Heading into this season, he has more motivational tools lying around this city than there are blades of burnt grass.

Start with the upcoming Olympics in Russia, and splice in the stunning lack of credit he got for his role as the starting goalie on Team Canada’s 2010 gold-medal winner.

Move to last year, which Luongo stamped a wasted season, a year of his prime he basically lost because he was cast as the backup.

He won’t forget that he was passed over for an injured Cory Schneider for starts in the playoffs. He could even dovetail in the urban legend that no teams wanted him when the Canucks were trying desperately to trade him. But, of course, that last part is not true.

Teams did want Luongo. There were at least two cities he wasn’t willing to consider. And then there was Toronto. There were two times the Canucks feel they could have done a deal with the Maple Leafs. One was at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The other was just before the lockout. In both instances, Luongo let the Canucks know he wasn’t interested in going to Hogtown and those deals died on the vine.

So, some of the responsibility for what happened in the end will always rest with Luongo, and, by extension, his recently replaced agent, Gilles Lupien.

Maybe he’s not happy about what went down, but does it matter if it now means Luongo won’t come to Canucks training camp bouncing like a golden retriever, tongue wagging and reciting his favourite scenes from Goonies?

Well, actually, maybe it does matter.

The Canucks are counting on getting an inspired Luongo this fall, and they should get it. But what happens next summer?

Luongo has a limited out-clause written into his contract which he can trigger after the season.

Maybe by then other teams will realize there is an easy loophole allowing them to get around the "cap recapture" penalty that haunts his contract. Find an ailment when he wants to retire and put him on the long-term injury list for the final years of his deal. If he’s on LTI, there will be no cap penalty. Suddenly that poison pill isn’t quite so poisonous.

Luongo’s out-clause allows him to formally demand a trade next summer. He can pick five destinations, and it would be on the Canucks to try once more to deal him.

And round and round we would go.

That’s not a sequence the Canucks are keen to repeat, which is part of the reason they dispatched both Gilman and GM Mike Gillis to Florida in July to explain their side of things.

The Canucks’ executives covered the timeline from the moment Luongo asked for a trade. They also explained their hands were tied in the end because ownership told them a buyout was a non-starter.

They pushed the idea this can be the fresh start Luongo was seeking, right here in Vancouver with its new head coach.

"We both have a good rapport with Luongo," Gilman said. "I think it went as well as it could have gone.

"I understand where he’s coming from. He requested a trade after the 2012 season. He anticipated he was going to be traded.

"I don’t think he ever contemplated that Cory (Schneider) would be traded. Neither did Cory for that matter.

"I think it was a rather shocking turn of events for him and that’s the biggest emotion he experienced."

After the July meeting, Luongo told people privately it didn’t change much. He still wanted his fresh start in a new town, though he understood he didn’t have leverage to make it happen.

Will he feel the same way next summer?

I guess that depends on how happy he is. Keep smiling, Torts.

Ill keep smilling,when you do something that pisses off Torts.

Release the dog

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I agree with TO Maple Laugh that Lui will not be a problem this year. However, I am finally pleased that someone has addressed this clause in his contract for the end of 2013-14. I fundamentally believe this is the reason why it was very difficult to trade Luongo this year. Think about it---if you were an NHL General Manager, would you trade for someone who will have the contractual right to try and seek a trade the following year. Lu got new representation with JP Berry and company. This may be part of the reason to grease the wheels to prepare other teams for a potential trade. It will be interesting to see how this will shake out come next spring. It would be lousy to lose both Lu and Schneids within one year.

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Botchford's work week:

Monday: Watch TSN for 2 hours, check B-Mac's tweets, go on CDC for a bit

Tuesday: Write a couple articles (takes about 20 minutes)

Wednesday: off

Thursday: off

Friday: off

Saturday: off

Sunday: count money....also off

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