The hockey gods may have displayed their most twisted sense of humor to date. Tuesday afternoon it was announced that the Vancouver Canucks and the Florida Panthers had reached a trade agreement. Vancouver is sending Robert Luongo to Florida in exchange for the Panthers’ goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom and centerman Shawn Matthias.
While the media awaited Tim Thomas in Boston after the Panthers loss to the Bruins, 4-1, the jokes abounded as to how many questions would be asked before someone mentioned Luongo. Not surprisingly the answer to that was clearly none. In fact, the bulk of the scrum was about the breaking news on the trade.
Questions were asked about if Thomas felt he and Luongo could play on the same team. He was sure they could, but his sense of humor was in full display. He said he was sure the media had probably already come up with it, but that he had been thinking about a good response for the questions.
“Dale [Tallon] went kicking some tires and found one that needed pumping.” Thomas laughed.
The media around him bowed to his one-liner, as they said he had outdone them in this department.
Each time Thomas plays in TD Garden, since leaving the Bruins, and he and Tuukka Rask chat while stretching at the centerline, everyone wants to know what they discuss. This time those surrounding him were curious if Rask asked him about the trade, but it was nothing so dramatic. Turned out Rask asked Thomas how he spent his Olympic break. And of course, Thomas already knew what Rask had been up to during that time.
Just five days ago, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon insisted to the media that there would be no fire sale as the trade deadline approached. While it may not be a fire sale, this trade could certainly be categorized as a fire storm.
Thomas was a little surprised by the trade, saying that he didn’t want to say too much until he had a chance to talk to Tallon. He did say he felt that Luongo was a good goalie and that from everything he had heard, Luongo had a “good character.”
Back in the Bruins’ locker room, forward Milan Lucic, who dropped the gloves during Tuesday’s game against Panthers Krys Barch (who would then choose his usual dance partner, Shawn Thornton, later in the evening), was asked his thoughts on the trade. After all, Lucic does hail from Vancouver.
“It was pretty funny,” he laughed. “I’m sure they’ll have a lot of fun together to end off the year.”
Lucic pointed out that Vancouver had talked about trading Luongo for a long time now. Finally a deal was done. How it works out is perhaps on both goalies’ minds, as they both prefer to be the starting goalie.
“I think it’s just funny,” Lucic continued, “that [Luongo] ends up being teammates with Tim Thomas; two guys that obviously battled in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.”
When asked how he thought the two would do, Lucic took a wait and see attitude. “We’ll see how they pair up together and how they finish off.”
Thomas seems to be taking a similar approach, alluding to feeling a little uninformed at that point. He did insist that the news of the trade did nothing to his concentration during the game.
“I don’t know what they [Panthers management] are planning there. I don’t know anything at this point.” he said. “I gotta see the situation. I’d like to check in with Dale before I really comment.”
During his meeting with the press after the game, Bruins head coach Claude Julien was asked what he expected of the two goalies when the Bruins take on the Panthers for their final regular season game on Sunday down in Sunrise, Florida.
“Let’s see if they’re still teammates tomorrow,” he responded, alluding to the 3:00pm trade deadline.
But like everyone else watching this play out, Julien couldn’t resist a little tongue-in-cheek.
“There will be a lot of tire pumping.” he grinned.
And the hockey gods may truly have the last laugh on this one.