The Vancouver Canucks have made it perfectly clear that they are going with Cory Schneider as the team’s primary starting goaltender this season, and they confirmed the decision by benching Roberto Luongo for the season opener, according to the Canucks' official Twitter account:
Cory Schneider will start in net tonight. #CanucksG1— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) January 19, 2013
This decision should come as a shock to no one in the hockey community, especially after Vancouver spent the entire summer trying to deal the veteran goalie and his enormous long-term contract (h/t CBC).
Luongo’s contract is worth $5,333,333 annually through 2022 (h/t CapGeek) with a no-trade clause, but the veteran has told the Canucks he’d waive the NTC to make a deal happen.
After watching the younger and less expensive Schneider outperform Luongo in the postseason last year, Vancouver made the difficult decision to go with the future in 2013 and start the fourth-year goalie.
With Luongo ready to be traded whenever the proper deal can be reached, the franchise has done its best to move the veteran while still getting enough in return for his services.
The veteran goalie told CBC Sports about his stance with Vancouver management on being traded and when he’d prefer to be dealt: "I told [Gillis] I was ready to go as long as it took," he said. "Whether it's a couple days, next week, two weeks, at the end of the season, it's totally fine with me."
As the Canucks try to get the most value for the move, the team will be lucky enough for the time being to have one of the most skilled goaltenders in the NHL as the team’s backup.
Vancouver will likely be in playoff contention in the hotly contested Western Conference, and the lockout-shortened season could wreak havoc on players’ stamina and health.
If Vancouver doesn’t need Luongo because of injuries, at least one team in the NHL will be desperate enough to make a move for the high-priced goalie.