Who wants to be a millionaire?

June 9, 2006

Kudos to the staff over at Abel to Yzerman for bringing this to my attention from Roberto Luongo’s agent.

“We don’t want to sign long term and then be traded to somewhere like, say,
Columbus, and be stuck there,” Lupien said.

My initial reaction is the typical fan rage of one who has his team called out for sucking (rightfully so, thus far). After two seconds, my eyes returned to their sockets and I had a thought, “Doesn’t Roberto Luongo play for the Panthers?” The humorist in me wanted to leave it at that. But then I started to think about two things: 1) How much worse can Columbus be than Florida? 2) What would prompt his agent to say something like this?

Something tells me the first question might answer the second.

So I decide to look at the statistics, but before I do, let’s look at the talent on each team. I’ll admit I don’t know as much about the Panthers as Roberto does, but bear with me. Doing my research over at TSN, it looks like Florida has some good players in Olli Jokinen, Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Rostislav Olesz, Jay Bouwmeester, and Mike Van Ryn. Of these, I only don’t recognize Olesz. The Jackets have Rick Nash, David Vyborny, Nikolai Zherdev, Duvie Westcott, and Rostislav Klesla. At this point, give the Panthers a slight edge (plus, it’s always sunny and warm there!).

On to the hard data.

Both Luongo and Jackets netminder Marc Denis have been the mainstay in the pipes since the start of the 2000-01 season (okay, there was Tugnutt in year 1, but they’ve both got over 30 starts a year from that point on). In the five seasons that have been played, the Panthers have averaged 71.2 points per season to the Jackets’ 66.6. Advantage: Florida.

Luongo has played in 317 games averaging 56 minutes per game to Denis’ 266 games at 57 minutes per. In five years, Luongo has faced 9960 shots to Denis’ 8016. Normalizing this information to shots per sixty minutes, we see that Luongo is facing 33.5 shots while Denis is only seeing 31.5. Advantage: Columbus.

Luongo gives up 2.51 goals per game played, while Denis gives up 2.86. Advantage: Florida.

Looking at this data, it’s easy for me to say that Roberto is a better goalie than Marc. And it’s probably just as fair to say that (everything else in a vacuum) if you had the goalies switch uniforms that Denis’ stats would be even worse. Based on goals per shot, the stats suggest that Denis would give up about 950 goals if the Columbus defense allowed as many shots as the blueliners in Florida did. In contrast, Luongo would have given up about 640. Converting these to match to the goals per game played (for comparing to the above figures, assuming each goalie would have played the same number of games for either team), Luongo would give up approximately 2.02 per game while Denis would balloon to 3.57. Advantage: Columbus.

It’s not scientific and I’m drastically oversimplifying things, but it’s not hard to see that Luongo could be doing much better in a different location, even Columbus.

So my answer to the first question is that “yes, the Columbus franchise has not performed as well in the last five seasons as has Florida. But when you don’t make the playoffs, who really cares?”

The second question deals with why Luongo’s agent would say something like this. The real answer is that he probably picked the team he felt to be the worst in the NHL at the time. He could have picked any of Washington, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, or Chicago; but then I wouldn’t have anything to write about (because it’s fun to pick on other NHL teams, right?). But I’m also interested in the subtext of what’s being said. The agent has access to the same information as I do, and no doubt they’ve performed similar studies for all teams in the NHL.

My thought is that Luongo doesn’t want to sign a long-term contract because he’s afraid that the Panthers would actually keep him.

That would scare me, too.



  1. Hey brother….wanted to drop you a line. I agree that we pretty much came to the same conclusion on different paths. I had intentions of posting you on the DCfW Blogroll this weekend. Nice to have another CBJ fan picking up the torch.

  2. […] take: About ten months ago, I made some comparisons between Roberto Luongo and Marc Denis, or more accurately between their resp….  At the time, they were members of the Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets.  It […]

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