Will the Robert Luongo Fiasco Cost Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis His Job?

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2013

Mike Gillis is dragging his feet on a possible Roberto Luongo trade.
Mike Gillis is dragging his feet on a possible Roberto Luongo trade.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Mike Gillis wants everyone to know he is a tough guy.

He wants everyone to know that he is not going to be bullied into trading goalie Roberto Luongo if he doesn't get solid value in return for the former All-Star goalie (source: Vancouver Sun).

Gillis is the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks and his job is to protect their interests at all times and to do the best for them in the short term and the long term.

That's not always as easy as it seems. Sometimes the short-term interests of a team are in direct conflict with the long-term interests.

That's almost certainly the case when it comes to dealing Luongo.

The Canucks made a decision to make Cory Schneider their starting goaltender after they lost their first-round playoff series to the Los Angeles Kings last year.

Actually, the decision was made as the series was ongoing (source: globeandmail.com). Head coach Alain Vigneault and Gillis concluded that it was unlikely the Canucks would ever win a Stanley Cup with Luongo in goal.

That's what had to have happened. There's no reason for both the coach and general manager of a team that won back-to-back Presidents' Trophies and got to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 to change goalies unless they believe that Luongo was not good enough to win a championship.

The words don't have to be spoken. The action of attempting to trade Luongo speaks for itself.

Gillis wants to get a solid return for Luongo. That makes sense. However, what is the top priority for this team?

The Canucks are still loaded with talent, and they don't need one more superstar to contend for the championship. What they need to do is give Schneider a comfortable environment to work in and establish himself as the team's No. 1 goalie.

He cannot do that as long as Luongo is around.

The early-season results are not helping the Canucks reach their long-term goals. Schneider has gotten off to a halting start. He has started four games for the Canucks, and he has a pedestrian 3.13 goals against average with an .897 save percentage.

Luongo has started three games and has seen action in four. He's been much more effective than Schneider, recording a 1.61 GAA and a .938 save percentage. He shut out the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 in his most recent performance.

So, the backup goalie is outperforming the first-string goalie—and by a significant margin.

That's only adding incendiary fuel to the goalie controversy in Vancouver.

That's not good for the team.

Gillis may be the tough guy who's not going to roll over so he can move Luongo out of town, but what is this doing for Schneider? He's the one who has to carry the Canucks' mantle when they get to the playoffs.

In pursuing the best possible deal for Luongo, he is protecting the Canucks' short-term interests.

However, he's not helping the team's long-term interests.

The longer Luongo remains on the Vancouver roster, the more difficult it becomes for Schneider.

Gillis is responsible for this. If he waits another month before trading Luongo, that's going to weigh on his team's psyche.

Gillis is digging a hole for this team. If the Canucks suffer in the postseason because of it, he will need to be held accountable.