The Vancouver Canucks’ plan was to get both Jason Garrison and Sami Salo on the same team.
On July 1, the Canucks envisioned a deep, versatile top six of Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Chris Tanev, Salo and Garrison.
It would have meant a luxury the Canucks have been chasing for years — three left-side D, with three right-side D. Not to mention five blueliners with extensive power-play experience and two thunderous slappers with Garrison and Salo.
Garrison will be considered Salo’s replacement this season but he wasn’t meant to be. Yes, the Canucks only offered Salo a one-year deal, refusing to commit to him the extra season he was seeking.
But their pitch wasn’t unlike the way the Detroit Red Wings handled the end of Nicklas Lidstrom’s storied career. As long as Salo wanted to keep playing, he was told he’d get a one-year contract.
As GM Mike Gillis explained this week on TEAM 1040, the Canucks were concerned about his age. Salo will be 38 to start the season.
“For players over 35, it’s very dangerous territory,” Gillis said. “If anything happens it counts against your cap. We were comfortable going one year at a time with Sami.”
Late in the negotiation, the Canucks juiced their offer, included a signing bonus and a significant raise from the $2 million he made last year. It was competitive with the deal Salo ended up signing with Tampa Bay, on a per-year basis.
It got close, even with other teams in the mix, including the Wings. But Salo turned down the Canucks, and the Wings, for the two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Lightning, a team that missed the playoffs last season.
Surprising? Maybe to some. Salo often talked about how driven he was to win the Stanley Cup.
“I haven’t won anything at the NHL level,” he told The Province in 2010. “It doesn’t matter if you have an Olympic medal or championships in Europe or a world championship.
“This is the thing that’s missing, and I have a lot of fire inside that’s just waiting to achieve something. There aren’t many opportunities to have a chance [at a cup].”
The Lightning remain a long shot to get him that chance this year. Salo certainly isn’t the first player to take the best offer, even if it’s from what some may consider the worse team.
He hasn’t exactly cashed in during his career. At least not in comparison to some of his peers. In the past seven years, he’s made $19 million.
Matt Carle, for example, just signed a six-year, $33-million contract to join him in Tampa.
Both Salo’s and Carle’s deals look like a retirement announcement for Lightning blueliner, and former Canuck, Mattias Ohlund.
Theodore could be part of Luongo trade
Without much movement recently in a potential Roberto Luongo trade, there’s been speculation the Canucks would insist Jose Theodore be part of the package if they consummate a trade with the Florida Panthers.
Theodore, on a one-year $1.5 million deal, is the type of veteran with experience as a starter the Canucks would love to back up Cory Schneider.
But Theodore has a no-trade clause, which lists 10 teams he can be dealt to without waiving it. The Canucks, ESPN reported, are not among the 10 teams on the list.
That doesn’t mean he won’t go to Vancouver. The Panthers could try and force his hand, by telling him if he refuses to waive it, he’d be No. 3 on their depth chart behind Luongo and Scott Clemmensen.
Theodore has worked with Vancouver goalie coach Rollie Melanson before, but there have been suggestions their relationship deteriorated over time in Montreal.
Earlier this year, in an interview with ingoalmag.com, Carey Price recalled a story where Melanson would tie a bungee cord to Theodore to force him to hold his glove up high.
Of course, Theodore is a different player than he was then. But he still doesn’t hold his glove high.