Roberto Luongo

Ex-agent: Luongo ‘treated like a piece of paper, a fourth-line player’ by Vancouver

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Yet another chapter has been written in the Canucks-Roberto Luongo saga, this time by Luongo’s recently fired agent.

On Thursday, Gilles Lupien blasted Canucks management — including GM Mike Gillis — saying he’s never seen a player of Luongo’s caliber treated in such fashion.

“I played on a team [Montreal] with nine Hockey Hall of Famers,” Lupien told the Globe and Mail’s Roy MacGregor. “I’ve never seen a star treated like that. I think personally he’s been treated like a piece of paper, a fourth-line player.”

To try and list all the drama Luongo’s experienced during his time in Vancouver would literally take up bandwidth, so let’s just focus on the most recent events.

After months of shopping Luongo, Vancouver flipped the script at the NHL Entry Draft and dealt Cory Schneider — who’d taken Luongo’s No. 1 gig — to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick (Bo Horvat).

Luongo, reportedly “shocked” by the turn of events (he’d listed his Vancouver condo shortly after the Canucks’ playoff elimination), has been silent ever since.

He’s yet to speak publicly about what transpired — or what his mindset is — and his only major move so far was to fire Lupien and replace him with two powerhouses in the player representation game, CAA’s Pat Brisson and JP Barry.

Lupien said he was stunned by the dismissal, but saved his biggest critiques for the Canucks organization — specifically Gillis, who he lambasted for drawing out the trade process and doing little to minimize the drama.

“It’s okay to say you’re going to trade someone,” he explained. “But then trade him. If I want to sell my car, and I want to get a good price for it, I don’t say my car is always in the garage. There’s something wrong with it. No one will want to buy it.

“You either say your car is the best car you ever had – or you say nothing.”

In Gillis’ defense, he never publicly criticized the Luongo contract, often saying the deal was “very friendly.”

“I know some people like to make a big deal of that, but it’s a very friendly contract for a lot of reasons,” Gillis said back in January. “One of the reasons is the new collective agreement. You can’t sign these types of (front-loaded) contracts (anymore) because they are favourable.

“So the contract’s not an issue.”

Some tough decisions await the Blues

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Yet again, the St. Louis Blues failed to achieve their ultimate goal.

And boy does it hurt right now.

“We’re all hurting,” coach Ken Hitchcock said last night after getting eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

“You don’t want this to be our best opportunity. You want this to be a building block. In this game, in this era, in this cap world, you don’t know where you’re going to be a year from now.”

Indeed, GM Doug Armstrong has some tough decisions to make this offseason.

At the top of the list is whether to bring Hitchcock back. Yes, the Blues did better than 26 other teams, and yes, they finally got past the first round. Still, there are people who believe this will be it for the head coach, that a new voice could help. Overall, Hitchcock has done a great job in St. Louis. But then, so did Todd McLellan in San Jose. Sometimes, change can be good.

Then there are the unrestricted free agents. Both captain David Backes and winger Troy Brouwer need new contracts. The former is 32, the latter 30. The former had seven goals in the playoffs, the latter eight. How much money will they want? How much term? The second question might be the most important.

On the back end, it’s Kevin Shattenkirk that will garner the most attention. He’s signed through next season before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Just 27 years old, and considering the demand for what he does, he’ll be very expensive to keep. And with the emergence of Colton Parayko, trading Shattenkirk could probably be justified, especially if the return is good. A team like the Boston Bruins might be willing to pay up.

Right now, the pain is still fresh for the Blues.

“It’s so hard to win in the league right now,” said Hitchcock. “It’s so hard to win a series. So hard to just get in the playoffs. When you get this far, you get this close, you think you got the opportunity.”

The challenge for Armstrong will be to give his team another opportunity next season. And with the draft less than a month away, all these tough decisions will need to be made very soon.

Goals of the Week get tougher as Cup Final approaches

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The Stanley Cup Final is almost upon us and picking the very best Goals of the Week is a tough task. See how we did on this edition!

Just for Men: Mike Commodore

RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 14:  Mike Commodore #22 of the Carolina Hurricanes warms up before game five of the 2006 NHL Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers on June 14, 2006 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Maybe one would argue that time hasn’t been kind to the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes (at least compared to the pedigree of other winners), but Mike Commodore’s incredible red afro and beard rank as one of hockey’s most timeless combinations.

Seriously, just take a step back from your monitor* and bask in the splendor of that carrot-topped Commodore.

Even then-President George W. Bush remarked on Commodore’s bushy hair and beard (or its tragic absence) when the Canes visited the White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Have a seat. It’s a pretty big deal for a guy that doesn’t know how to ice skate — (laughter) — to welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the White House. We appreciate you coming. You know, I’m not sure what is prettier, the Stanley Cup, or Mike Commodore’s hair. (Laughter.) A little disappointed you got a haircut. (Laughter.) But, welcome.

Good stuff.

And it really is kind of disappointing any time you see Commodore relatively clean-shaven. It’s like Superman without a big “S” on his chest or Metallica with short hair or any number of not-quite-right sights.

* – If you’re doing the Rumsfeld-style “standing at your desk” thing then … kneel for a second maybe?

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

Stanley Cup
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There’s nothing better than a Game 7, especially when a spot in the Stanley Cup Final is up for grabs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle in a do-or-die game for the right to play the San Jose Sharks with Lord Stanley on the line. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)

The television broadcast of Game 7 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the Live Extra app, click here.

Here’s some reading material to get you ready for this one:

Penguins, Lightning prepare for ‘roller coaster’ Game 7

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal