Luongo deal made sense to Keenan

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Looking back, it's a trade that ranks up with the doozies of NHL history.

For all the wrong reasons.

To those on the wrong side of the deal, it's akin to the infamous trade that saw Calgary send Doug Gilmour -- and Ric Nattress, Jamie Macoun, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville -- to Toronto for Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Jeff Reese, Craig Berube and Alexander Godynyuk.

It's the swap Flames bench boss Mike Keenan made while GM of the Florida Panthers. It's the one that made Canucks fans who hated Iron Mike forgive him; the trade that brought goalie Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick to Vancouver for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld.

With Keenan, the former Canucks head coach, back in Lotusland, it was brought up yesterday.

"I was expecting that we'd have some discussion about this," Keenan said. "It was a business venture, in terms of what Roberto and/or his agent were expecting financially. It was a conversation that our owner had and Jacques Martin -- in fact who had a veto position in the organization at the time -- had with both Roberto and (his agent) Gilles Lupien, and it just didn't work out that way financially.

"But as far as the trade,if Roberto broke his ankle and Bert scored 50 goals ..." he said, not finishing the thought. "It's was just unfortunate that Bertuzzi ended up getting badly hurt, and Alex got hurt, too."

The trade was a godsend to the Canucks.

And now it's part of Keenan's NHL legacy.

Is it the worst trade in NHL history? There are many out there that likely deserve that distinction.

How about the Canucks sending Cam Neely and a first-round pick (which became Glen Wesley) to Boston for Barry Pederson?

What about Hartford dealing Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings to Pittsburgh for Zarley Zalapski, John Cullen and Jeff Parker?

Pittsburgh sending Markus Naslund to Vancouver for Alek Stojanov?

Hey, it may not even be the worst deal involving a goalie.

Detroit dealt Glenn Hall -- Mr. Goalie -- with Ted Lindsay to Chicago for John Wilson, Forbes Kennedy, Bill Preston and Hank Bassen.

Boston traded the rights to a junior B goalie to Montreal for a couple of prospects who never made it. The goalie was Ken Dryden.

Fifteen months later, Keenan insists the deal came down to dollars and cents. Not a lack of sense.

"We always had high regard for Roberto," he insisted. "He is an exceptional talent. The whole aspect of making the trade had nothing to do -- there's not one person in Florida that didn't like Roberto as an individual and didn't see the potential or the ability in him -- so, it was a business decision."

The Panthers reportedly offered Luongo a US$30-million deal over five years. After being traded, he signed a four-year, US$27-million deal.

Whispers are a strained relationship between Keenan and Luongo led to the decision.

"That's a bit far away now. I've moved on," Luongo said yesterday. "I've spoken about it tons last year, and now it's time to move on.

Of course, there are words otherwise, that Keenan didn't want to make the trade, with rumours Panthers owner Alan Cohen and then-head coach and now-GM/coach Jacques Martin worked behind Keenan's back, which led to him leaving the Panthers.

"That could have been a possibility, but I don't have a lot of knowledge of that," Keenan said. "In fact, I did ask Jacques at the time, and he didn't know about it either.

"If it went off the rails because of that or that was part of the influence, then it's something behind both of us, and it's part of the business."


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