Nonis gets goalie's nod

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Roberto Luongo does not know the ins and outs of any tampering charges or supposed "he-said, she-said" allegations between the Vancouver Canucks and Maple Leafs organizations.

In fact, this is one Canuck who always will be indebted to a member of the Leafs front office.

Namely, David Nonis, the right-hand man of team president Brian Burke.

"I always had a tremendous amount of respect for him," Luongo said of Nonis.

Luongo has good reason to heap such heady praise at Nonis.

This was the man, after all, who enabled the all-star goaltender to become a Vancouver Canuck in the first place, rescuing him from a circus-like situation in Florida in the process.

Back in June of 2006, Nonis, then the general manager of the Canucks, pulled off what many here on the left coast consider to be one of the most lopsided trades in National Hockey League history.

During entry draft weekend at GM Place, the Canucks sent controversial power forward Todd Bertuzzi to Florida as part of a five-player trade that saw Luongo come to Vancouver.

The Canucks also got defenceman Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round pick in the deal that sent goalie Alex Auld and defenceman Bryan Allen to Florida.

When asked at the time what finally sealed the deal, Nonis jokingly replied: "The sixth-round pick."

Concerned with the direction the Panthers were headed, Luongo seemed like a man who wanted to escape the asylum in south Florida. It was Nonis who made that happen.

"It was a weird situation for me in what was happening in Florida," Luongo said. "I'm grateful that Dave brought me to Vancouver. But it's more than that. I think he's a great person."

Nonis was relieved of his duties with his Canucks after the 2007-08 season, replaced by Mike Gillis. Burke immediately brought Nonis to Anaheim, then to Toronto.

Given the Leafs goaltender woes, Nonis could only look down at Luongo stopping Toronto's early barrage of shots last night and think: "What have I done?"

MIKE.ZEISBERGER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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