With less than 10 minutes until the trade deadline, Roberto Luongo was called off the ice by Canucks management, leading to rampant speculation that he was about to be traded. It turned out to be a massive false alarm, as the trade deadline came and went without a Luongo trade. In fact, the Canucks didn’t make any trades at the deadline, standing pat with their trade for Derek Roy the day before.
Considering the trade fervour in Vancouver, Luongo was naturally asked to speak to the media after practice and gave one of the most honest and intriguing pressers of all time.
The highlight: when asked why he thinks he hasn’t been traded yet, he chuckled and said, “My contract sucks.”
We’re not used to hearing that kind of honesty from hockey players in interviews. We’re used to canned responses, clichés and empty rhetoric. We’re used to hearing, “It is what it is.” When it comes to trade rumours, we’re used to athletes telling us that they “don’t pay attention” and “don’t read the papers.” Luongo’s presser was the exact opposite: it was honest, emotional, and real.
It started with the usual platitudes. “It’s nice to get past this point,” he said, “I think I can really focus now on one thing and that’s doing what I can do to help this team.” It didn’t stay there though, as his very next sentence revealed how tough this whole process has been on him.
“Obviously in the last couple weeks, things have been a little bit emotionally tough for me.” It’s easy to forget in all the hype of the trade deadline how stressful it must be for those on the trading block. For a short period of time, the people become commodities to be moved, acquired, and sold to the highest bidder. In fact, it’s incredibly impressive that Luongo was able to deal with this stressful time with humour, even mystifying his followers on Twitter the day before the deadline with a series of cryptic tweets featuring emojis.
“It’s weird, I’ve been pretty calm about the whole situation until, for some reason, yesterday in the late evening,” Luongo said, “I started getting weird feelings in my stomach — not that I had to go to the bathroom — just getting nervous.” Classic Funny Bob. Even while pouring his heart out, he can’t resist a poop joke.
It turned out that Luongo was only called off the ice at practice with 10 minutes to go before the deadline just in case a deal came in and Gillis and Gilman needed to ask him to waive his no trade clause right then and there.
When asked whether he was disappointed not to be traded, Luongo said, “I don’t think disappointment’s the right word. It’s been an emotional ride the last year and I think it’s more the unknown that has gotten to me more than anything else. I’m proud to be a Vancouver Canuck, I love it here, I love my teammates. It’s just a matter of the unknown and what the future holds; it’s something you try not to think about, but you do sometimes. I’m human and sometimes it gets to you.”
Luongo was blunt about his contract being the big impediment to a trade. “That’s what the problem is,” he said shortly after telling us the deal sucked. “Unfortunately, it’s a big factor in trading me and it’s probably why I’m still here.”
I’m honestly not sure if Luongo believes his contract sucks, or if that’s just what GMs around the league have told Mike Gillis. Personally, I’m still of the opinion that an elite goaltender like Luongo at a cap hit of $5.3 million is a pretty good deal. In fact, when asked what part of his contract “sucks,” Luongo laughed and replied, “I don’t know. You guys can do the analysis on that.”
But when asked if he would trade some of the money on his contract in order to get more playing time, he didn’t hesitate. “I’d scrap it if I could, right now.”
The other big news from the presser is that Luongo was never approached to officially waive his no trade clause at any point. There could be some room for semantics in what he said, however. He indicated that if he had taken a different approach — for instance if he hadn’t pushed for a trade to Florida, as rumoured — a trade could have been made earlier.
The most heartbreaking quote from the presser came near the end: “It’s a hit on your pride that teams aren’t willing to give up much.”Tags: Funny Bob, Roberto Luongo