Gillis on Luongo: ‘Either play or don’t play’

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The Vancouver Canucks made a couple of minor free-agent pickups today, signing defenseman Yannick Weber to a one-year deal and center/winger Brad Richardson for two years.

But the big story remains veteran goalie Roberto Luongo, who’s been conspicuously silent since Cory Schneider was traded at the draft.

Almost a week after the fact, it remains unclear how Luongo feels about the move and what his intentions are for next season. The 34-year-old wanted and expected to be traded, but ultimately his contract meant it was Schneider who was moved.

This afternoon, general manager Mike Gillis was asked about Luongo’s options.

“Either play or don’t play,” replied Gillis, adding he plans to travel to Florida to speak with Luongo (as Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini has already reportedly done.)

And what if Luongo doesn’t show up to play? Well, we’re not lawyers here. However, here’s what PHT legal analyst Eric Macramalla told us during the lockout when Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk were threatening to stay in the KHL…

An NHL contract, which is called a “Standard Player Contract” or an “SPC”, provides at Section 14(b) that a team has the right to terminate a contract if that player shall “fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any other manner materially breach this Contract”.

Not rendering services would include not showing up for work. So while Ovechkin and/or Kovalchuk wouldn’t be in a position to challenge the validity of their contracts, they could elect not to return to the NHL, thereby setting in motion a series of events that would end with their clubs terminating their contracts.

It seems unlikely that Luongo would risk voiding a contract that still has $40.6 million left to be paid out, not to mention the risk of getting sued for damages.

Still, he did say in April that he’d “scrap” his contract if he could.

Maybe that was more than just his frustration talking?