Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was dealt to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. / Anne-Marie Sorvin, USA TODAY Sports
Goalie Roberto Luongo made it clear what he thought of being traded to the Florida Panthers when he tweeted an emoticon of a palm tree.
"He's excited, just over the moon about coming back to Florida," said Panthers general manager Dale Tallon.
Luongo previously played with the Panthers, his wife is from Florida and he has a home there.
"He's a big name down here and this sets a tone for our franchise," Tallon said.
The Panthers pulled off the highest-profile move on a busy NHL trading day when they re-acquired Luongo, 34, from the Vancouver Canucks for goalie Jacob Markstrom and center Shawn Matthias. The Panthers also get minor league forward Steven Anthony, and the Canucks have agreed to pay 15% of Luongo's salary.
"You don't get Roberto Luongo for nothing," Tallon said. "You have to pay a price. Obviously, we paid a big price. Jacob is a great young goalie with a lot of potential."
Markstrom is 10 years younger than Luongo, but he hasn't yet lived up to expectations. The trade sent shock waves through Vancouver. Eight months ago, the Canucks were trying to decide whether to keep Luongo or Cory Schneider. Now, they don't have either goalie.
The Panthers had tried to trade for Luongo last summer.
We just couldn't get a deal done," Tallon said. "We tried."
The door seemed closed after the Canucks held onto Luongo and shipped Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for a first-round pick during last year's draft.
But the possibility of Luongo being traded seemed more real over the weekend when Canucks coach John Tortorella chose Eddie Lack to play over Luongo in the Heritage Classic. Tortorella said he believed Lack, who had started the two previous games, had given his team the best chance to win.
Luongo, 34, was clearly angered by Tortorella's decision, and it seemed likely that there would be lingering friction between the coach and player. It's possible that tension was the impetus for the deal. Tallon said he began talking to the Canucks about Luongo about 3 p.m. on Monday.
"He's still one of the elite goaltenders in the league," Tallon said.
Eight seasons ago, Luongo had been traded from the Panthers to the Canucks.
He'll be sharing the Florida net with Tim Thomas, who bested him in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final while a member of the Boston Bruins. Tallon said he hadn't had time to discuss the situation with Thomas, but expected to do so by Wednesday morning.
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