Brian Burke shares details of Canucks-Leafs Luongo trade that never happened

Apr 3 2020, 12:05 pm

Brian Burke took a trip down memory lane this week, answering questions from fans on Twitter.

In response to one fan, the former NHL executive spilled the beans on details of trade talks regarding Roberto Luongo in 2013, when Burke was GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks were looking to deal the future Hall of Fame goaltender.

“We were all in hard on Luongo around the time when I got fired,” said Burke. “The price would have come down to a lot but we were in the mix.”

The Canucks wanted a huge haul for Luongo, according to Burke, namely Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri, and two first-round picks.

As a quick refresher, the timing of the Canucks trying to deal Luongo couldn’t have been worse. Cory Schneider wrestled the No. 1 job away from Luongo during the 2012 playoffs, but the NHL was about to enter a 119-day lockout.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement punished teams that took on a contract structured like Luongo’s, making him less desirable to other teams. They also didn’t have much time to complete a trade, as a tentative deal on a new CBA was reached on January 6, 2013, with the season beginning on January 19. Burke was fired by the Leafs on January 10.

Dealing Luongo proved to be more difficult than then-Canucks GM Mike Gillis anticipated, so Vancouver held onto him. The Canucks and Leafs talked about Luongo again at the trade deadline, this time with Dave Nonis as Toronto’s GM, but no deal was reached.

Gillis eventually traded Cory Schneider to New Jersey, keeping Luongo a Canuck until 2014.

In short, it was a wild time in Canucks Nation.

It was an interesting period for the Leafs as well. Having missed the playoffs in seven straight seasons, Toronto returned to the postseason in 2013 with the likes of Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf leading the charge.

It was also a breakout year for Kadri, who scored 44 points in 48 games, while James Reimer posted strong numbers in goal with a .924 save percentage.

But rather than a sign of good things to come, it was a mirage for Toronto, as the Leafs missed the playoffs the next three seasons.

In retrospect, the Leafs would have been better off by trading for Luongo in the short term — Reimer didn’t turn into a bonafide No. 1 goalie — though Luongo wouldn’t have been a great fit during their rebuilding years.

Looking back at Vancouver’s asking price for Luongo, it was most certainly outrageous.

But for as poor as the Canucks handled their goaltending situation, it actually turned out alright for them. They ended up with captain Bo Horvat for Schneider, while Luongo netted them team MVP Jacob Markstrom.

So as weird as it may sound, it probably turned out for the best for both the Canucks and Leafs that Luongo stayed put.

Some more great Burkie stories

Because we all have time for more stories, especially from someone like Burke, here’s a selection of some other great ones he told.

While GM of the Anaheim Ducks, Burke believed he made a better offer for Joe Thornton before the Bruins traded him to San Jose.

His most regrettable trade came as Canucks GM, trading for Vadim Sharifijanov in 2000. He played 17 games for the Canucks that season and never played another NHL game again.

Kadri’s dad after the Leafs drafted him in 2009:

The funniest player:

And finally, a heartwarming Kessel story: