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CBA-Free Zone: Luongo, Coyotes, Lingering NHL Topics

<em>"Where we going?" >></em> "No idea."
"Where we going?" >> "No idea."

When not filled with Fehr and loathing of the direction the powers that be are taking the NHL, the mind of a fan desperate for other hockey news drifts toward other big summer issues that still linger unresolved.

In the summer doldrums, NHL Home Ice replays its early-summer team reports. This morning was an encore broadcast about the Canucks. A hot issue then, and still now: The fate of Roberto Luongo. It's actually quite a funny issue, as while it is not CBA-related, it captures so much about the NHL which complicates the CBA.

Namely: Luongo was traded before his original low-revenue, drafting team knew what he was capable of, to make room to draft another young goalie whose full capabilities his drafting team did not yet know. Luongo went on to star for a starved, second low-revenue NHL team until they couldn't afford or find agreement on a new contract, so he was traded to a high-revenue NHL team and signed to an eternal and virtually untradable contract to help that high-revenue team circumvent "navigate" the salary cap.

But now that another young goalie has come along and gotten off to a nice career start -- to be clear, it's too early to tell how good Cory Schneider will be -- the high-revenue team wants to deal Luongo and his onerous contract back to southern Florida, where the Panthers really have little reason to take on that big of a commitment to a goalie, and they especially don't have reason to give up something of value for the privilege of taking on that commitment.

As a bonus, Luongo has a no-trade clause. The Panthers have very little incentive to help the Canucks out of this mess entirely of their own making.

Maybe it's just August and maybe it's just CBA domination, but reports of Luongo rumors have quieted down. Maybe all parties are curious what the next CBA will hold -- a rollback, an amnesty, an ability to trade cap space, perhaps? -- which would change the equation for the Canucks, the Panthers and any other team that could be goaded into eating that deal.

But for now, the Canucks appear to want to circumvent their cake and eat it too. They made the trade, they signed the lifetime deal, and they decided a few theatric playoff disappointments means franchise goalies aren't forever.

Question for you, dear reader: What do you think the end-game is here? Where does Luongo end up, and how?

Coyotes: Unlike Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Still Alive

The Phoenix Coyotes have been declared dead so many times it's unfair to their tortured fans to even talk about this story when there's nothing new to talk about.

But still ... the Coyotes last(?) hope, Greg Jamison -- the reason Shane Doan has flirted with many teams but not signed with any of them -- was reported at the end of July to be still $20 million short for the purchase price of the team.

And that's before funding operations of what is by most accounts a money-losing operation where fans and corporate partners have little reason to invest for the long term. Ten days later (and 13 days before today), Jamison's deal was reported to be "back on track" ... which sounds solidly reported enough to be believable, if only Coyotes fans hadn't been through this drill time and time again.

Jamison's group does not sound like a group rolling in cash it can afford to lose. So again, the question: What's the end game here? Does the Coyotes' survival depend on a CBA that throws further assistance to struggling teams? Would even that be enough?

Tim Thomas: Malcontent Cap Fodder?

This final topic isn't really a hot one -- there are no rumors of Tim Thomas being on the move after announcing he did not want to play the 2012-13 season. Still, doesn't that one year remaining on his contract make him an attractive cap mule candidate? But some cap filler -- filler you might not even have to pay, if you suspend him -- and get at minimum some theoretical goalie insurance if he changes his mind?