The return (Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias) was always going to be lopsided at face value. Luongo’s enormous contract entails a significant punitive recapture penalty based on when he retires; Vancouver had nearly no leverage, and the other 29 NHL teams knew it.
The Canucks didn’t exactly help themselves, however. The organization’s relationship with Luongo has been steadily deteriorating for several years now, and the blame for that lies squarely on Vancouver management and coaching. Concerning the former, general manager Mike Gillis was allegedly demanding far too valuable of a return for Luongo during the summer of 2012 and the 2012-13 NHL season. Just prior to this, of course, was Vancouver’s dreadful flop in the playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, a series in which Luongo played quite well, in the games that he participated in, that is. Luongo was inexplicably replaced by Cory Schneider several games into the series, an Alain Vigneault decision that prompted the beginning of a poisonous falling out between player and organization.
Thus, one can understand why John Tortorella‘s choice to start Eddie Lack in the Heritage Classic got so much attention. It was simply another example of Luongo, a player who treated the entire situation with as much class and dignity as you could reasonably expect, being disrespected by an organization that lost touch with the meaning of success years ago.
The Panthers acquired themselves a quality goaltender. The Canucks, meanwhile, have acquired themselves a jump start to a sorely needed rebuild.