Roberto Luongo gives first interview since Schneider trade; it’s about poker

“Poker questions only.”

Roberto Luongo has been silent since Cory Schneider was traded to the New Jersey Devils at last weekend’s NHL Draft. But on Monday morning, the silence was finally broken, as Luongo appeared on CFOX’s Jeff O’Neil show.

Just as he was at this time last year, Roberto Luongo is currently in Las Vegas at the World Series of Poker (which, if you’re reading this, Mike Gillis, explains why he’s not answering his door in Florida, so you can knock it off with the romantically stubborn gesture of sleeping on the step like Zach Braff in The Last Kiss). O’Neil and his compatriots caught up with Luongo there, chatting with him Friday night in a private suite.

Fair warning: while Luongo does technically break his silence in the sense that he, you know, says words, very few of those words give us any insight into his plans for the fall. But if you’re a fan of Luongo the poker player, you now know that his plans for the summer include doing poker good.

Yeah, not very enlightening, unless you feel like reading a lot into that extraordinarily awkward signoff:

“And we’ll see you in Vancouver…. soon?”

“Yeah thanks guys.”

That said, O’Neil was at least kind enough to share some snippets from the off-the-record conversation that followed, where, according to him, Luongo said he doesn’t really blame Mike Gillis for this whole fiasco.

If so, then who does he blame? Owner Francesco Aquilini, who may have necessitated this trade by refusing the buyout that would free Luongo while still paying him all the money? Gary Bettman, who may have necessitated the trade by including a petty new clause in the 2013 CBA that made Luongo’s contract untradeable? GOD, who clearly turned his back on Luongo some time ago?

No clue.

The only other takeaway from this interview? Luongo’s poker handle is “Luongo1″.

Pass it to Bulis: your home for breaking news.

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31 comments

  1. Nee
    July 8, 2013

    When do we start getting concerned about Luongo’s silence about playing for the Canucks this fall?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      July 8, 2013

      Last week?

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      • gary
        July 8, 2013

        After the ‘ooh’ from the draft day trade passed your lips?

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        Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
        • Harrison Mooney
          July 8, 2013

          Something like that. I think Luongo will be back and the silence is just an emotional guy knowing himself and waiting to calm down before he speaks, for fear of saying anything that would exacerbate the issue, but still. The silence is a little concerning.

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          • Gary
            July 8, 2013

            But he can’t really win here can he (and I don’t mean the WSOP)? He says something now – either I’m happy in Van (can’t be true!!) or I”m not (he wants out…double disaster!!) – or he waits and gets grief for not being forthcoming about what he wants, when surely we all know whatever he actually says (and whenever he actually says it), it will be what he wants us to hear, regardless of whether that is what he thinks/wants to say?

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  2. mb13
    July 8, 2013

    How about this…

    Owner buys out Luongo’s contract. Luongo agrees to repay owner x dollars from the buyout.

    Luongo is freed from contract (“I’d tear up my contract”) and owners don’t have to go out of pocket for full buy out amount.

    Anyways – Canucks are stuck with Luongo now.

    And I don’t get why everybody is so sympathetic to Luongo…. I mean… the guy is getting paid to play a game. Get over it. Or maybe he can tour a starving African village, meet a Japanese family who lost everything as a result of a Tsunami or a Palestinian refugee camp – it might give his “problems” and “feelings” some perspective. I think a lot of people that are sympathetic to Luongo also need some perspective.

    That point aside – I think the Canucks might have completely missed the boat on the issue of Luongo’s professionalism. He can be as professional as he wants but if his heart isn’t with the Canucks anymore, his play will follow suit.

    tick tock, tick tock – how long before John Totrorella is GM?

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    • Rob Robertson
      July 8, 2013

      Luongo is a man who signed a contract in good faith. He is entitled to every dollar of that contract. Why would he give anything back? Is it his fault that Gillis and Aquilini offered him that deal?

      Yes he is getting paid to play a game. But he is in the top 10 of his chosen profession in the world.

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      Rating: +13 (from 15 votes)
      • mb13
        July 8, 2013

        Nobody is saying that he HAS to give it back.

        I’m just saying, if he’s not happy, there is a solution. He, himself, even said he’d tear up his contract if he could. That means that he was WILLING to walk away.

        Is he really Top 10 in the world at his chosen profession? I’m not so sure about that. He is an NHL goalie who has barely played in the last year and has been outplayed by the opposition netminder in the last 3 series he has participated. Not to mention, he hasn’t won a playoff game since 2011 and is on a 1-9 run in the playoffs with a save % of approximately .88 and GAA of 3.82 in those 10 games. Last year was mid-pack in save % and GAA. His last full season he was 12 in save % and 16 in GAA.

        What am I missing here?

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        • Aaron
          July 8, 2013

          Your stats are only from a small portion of his career and don’t truely reflect facts. his career stats are 2.52 GAA and .919 save%. He is currently 17th for most won games and with only Hasek having a higher save % in top 20. So your right he’s not top ten but he is top 20 all time. For active Goalies only Brodeur has more wins. Sure it’s easy to say he was out played on the other side but if the team in front of you can’t score then you are not going to win. Goalies can steal games but the don’t score to many goals. I am kinda sick of seeing Lou get blamed entirely for loseing in the playoffs. It’s a team effort from the coach/s to the players on the ice. He may have not won the big game yet but before him we did much worse. We owe Lou a lot and he deserves better than Canucks fans have given him!!! But thats just my feeling.

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          • mb13
            July 10, 2013

            Sorry – why did you say that “I am kinda sick of seeing Lou get blamed entirely for losing in the playoffs”?

            Who is blaming him entirely?

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            • Aaron
              July 10, 2013

              Ok maybe thats an extreme statment. The majority of comments do seem to blame Lou and discount his ability based on a few games. I do agree they were important games and he was in part to blame. I just find it frusterating that people disregard what he has done for the canucks based on a small portion of times when he has under preformed.

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    • J21
      July 8, 2013

      That would be pretty clear CBA circumvention to pay back some of the money (even if he were willing).

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  3. Colby
    July 8, 2013

    “Cya in Vancouver soon then?”

    Luongo: “Depends how this gig goes.”

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  4. Paul from YT
    July 8, 2013

    It could play out like this:
    Luongo announces his retirement leaving the team with an unproven tandem of Lack and Eriksson in net- gets paid what he would from the Canucks and Aquilini due to retirement and stays out of the game and limelight for a hopefully peaceful and quiet year.
    For 2014 season he announces he is un-retiring a la Dominc Hasek and signs with a contender such as Boston or with Edmonton (just to stick it to the Canucks ownership) for a fraction of the cost of his current contract.

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    • SL
      July 8, 2013

      IIRC, if he retires before the end of his contract, the Canucks will carry a portion of the annual average value of his contract (whcih will count against the cap) for a number of years. So…if he wanted to screw the Canucks over, he could do what you said unless there are other rules about players un-retiring while a previous contract would technically still be effective.

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      • Mt
        July 8, 2013

        I assume (but can’t find info on the topic) that coming out of retirement doesn’t make someone a UFA. I mostly base that on the fact that no one has abused that move.

        Lu could retire with the ‘wink wink’ agreement that he comes out in order to be bought out. That’s pretty fantastical but it seems the only thing he could do with leverage. Retiring screws the Canucks’ cap situation because of the ‘Luongo clause’ so he could threaten to stay in retirement and leave them with no goalies and a cap hit for much of a decade.

        If he’s pissed at Gillis that would about do it. Gillis would have effectively traded all of the best goalie tandem around for one first rounder and a big cap hit. That would just about sear Gillis’ rep. The guy has to be sour about watching his boss who doesn’t know when to hold ‘em and when not to. Especially when the ‘em in question is Lu himself.

        That, again, is a sci-fi-horror fantasy. Likely Lu comes to camp and keeps what sourness is left private.

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        • SL
          July 8, 2013

          Does anyone think that there’s a chance that the Canucks will revisit the idea of buying out Luongo next summer? Next summer is the last summer for compliance buyouts (unless I have read wrong).

          From what I can understand, if Luongo doesn’t want to hamstring the Canucks with a cap hit for his contract after he retires, he cannot retire until the end of his contract (when he will be 43 years old). Even if Luongo is traded and then retires, the Canucks will still be stuck with the salary recapture.

          So, if Luongo retires at all before the end of this contract, the Canucks are stuck with the recapture. IIRC, this result does not occur if he is bought out.

          If he plays well and retires just a few years before the end of his contract, maybe suffering from the recapture for a few years won’t be that bad. If he doesn’t though, then the Canucks are stuck with an unmovable contract and the likelihood that they’ll be dealt a handicap on their cap space for many years. If the cap goes up, then the issue becomes less significant over time. That will depend on the success of several smaller/non-traditional market teams (Arizona anyone?), if history is any indication of the future, is not particularly encouraging.

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          • Gary
            July 9, 2013

            Guess it depends if Lu wants to carry on playing in the years the original contract expected him to retire – ie the ones where the cash salary is below what you’d expect to get for actually playing in those years (hello cap circumvention!). If he does want to play (given the age he’d be seems unlikely but you never know) he won’t want to play under this contract. But as far as I know his ‘out’ clause is way before that stage. And as commented above, he can’t retire to get a new contract elsewhere. So either he plays here until he’s done and he gets paid until he’s 43 (regardless of when he stops playing) or he ‘legally’ retires and there is probably a cap recapture hit?

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    • JDM
      July 8, 2013

      It should go without saying, but this is impossible.

      First, there is a clause in the CBA that prevents you from using retirement to swap teams. Basically, if you un-retire, you end up back in the same position you were in prior to retirement. I.e., he would still be Canucks property.

      Second, if Luongo retired, he would not “get paid what he would”, he would get paid absolutely nothing.

      In other words, if Luongo retires, he will forego roughly $40 million in salary, and his NHL career will be over. Meanwhile, yes, the Canucks would be stuck without a goalie, but would have an extra 5.3M in cap space to sign, say, Ilya Bryzgalov for one season, or maybe send an offer sheet to the Blues’ Jake Allen or another RFA goalie. They would also suffer a cap recapture penalty of about $850,000 for the next decade or so – which isn’t much of a penalty, really.

      In other words, Roberto Luongo retiring is MUCH worse for Roberto Luongo than it is for the Canucks.

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  5. Mt
    July 8, 2013

    What I find a bit disconcerting is James Duthie quoting him as saying, early on, that he was going to talk to his agent about his options.

    The idea that he is considering more than 1 option means he’s less than happy.

    I still expect that playing in Van is still his best option. He’ll most likely do that and when he cools down he’ll just say he was surprised and needed time to let it settle in. He won’t mention that there were other options but I suspect he’s considering them now. If not, I doubt the team brass would be pouring it on so heavily with trips to see him.

    Also, what’s up with him saying his condo is still for sale? Maybe he just needs a new pad, and all will be good.

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  6. Dr. Kingman
    July 8, 2013

    I bet Gillis is sweating bricks over Lu’s silence. I would not be at all surprised to see Lu hang up his goalie pads and call it a career. His ego has been trashed and I just can’t see him back between the pipes in a Canuck’s jersey.

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    • PB
      July 8, 2013

      I have a hard time imagining that for whatever hurt feelings he might have that Luongo might actually retire and abandon $40 million or whatever’s left of his contract. He might be proud and he might be irritated/angry/disappointed, but he’s not insane. Even Tim Thomas for all his noted craziness only left $3 million in actual salary (ok that’s still crazy in my book) to go build himself a bunker this past year.

      As noted above, it’s likely that Luongo’s just waiting for things to cool off a bit before jumping back into the insecure fray of Vancouver sports prominence.

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      • Colby
        July 9, 2013

        I would think that part of those Cap-Recapture polices around retirement that would make the Canucks pay Luongo after he retires, would in turn bind him to the organization should he return.

        I doubt he would just become a UFA.

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  7. Pleiadian Jim
    July 8, 2013

    I think he needs to process the whole ridiculousness of the situation. He seems to be an honest guy, and any stand-up guy would welcome space before he launches whatever sound bit captures him.

    It still has the potential to play out beautifully: appreciation, redemption, and hopefully success. He knows that wouldn’t be a bad thing to be apart of, and although far from guaranteed, he is obviously a gambling man.

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  8. paul
    July 8, 2013

    his heart may not be into it, but his wallet sure is…

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  9. Smokey
    July 8, 2013

    Good on Lu for making these fools sweat.

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  10. akidd
    July 9, 2013

    what a hand this is turning out to be. with the decision to trade schneider and keep lou happening just a couple of days before draft day with lou unaware and unconsulted you really have to wonder what the canucks play really is here. did lou expect a buyout? is this some huge gamble on the acquillinis’ part that lou might not report? retire? are the canucks making a squeeze play here? making it so unpalatable to continue in vancouver that lou will walk away and the acquillinis will get around the buyout?

    just reaching here, obviously. i’m still just trying to get my head around recent events. they just don’t make sense straight up. if lou were to be the goalie of the future, he would have been consulted pre-trade. it’s just impossible for management to not get all their little ducks in a row before pulling the trigger on something of that magnitude. it’s not free jazz.

    no, there’s some bigger play here. pretty high-stakes game going.

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    • Pavo
      July 9, 2013

      akidd,

      It could be that ownership is annoyed that Roberto asked for, and got, a big-money long-term contract (because he wanted to be the highest paid goalie of all time), and just 2 years in requested a trade. Further, with the old CBA ticking down, Roberto vetoed at least 1 trade (to Toronto) because he was focused on a move to just 1 team – which didn’t really want him.

      After draft day there were a few reports suggesting that Roberto’s agent had inquired about a buyout and had been told clearly that that was not a possibility. At that point, it should have been plain to both Roberto and his agent that there was a good chance that Schneider could be traded as the Canucks had to move one of their goalies and there did not appear to be a market for Roberto.

      Cory has himself since stated that his agent had warned him that Cory being traded was a real possibility as Roberto’s contract was likely very difficult to move.

      From the outside looking in, it appears that Roberto has surrounded himself with too many people who tell him what he wants to hear and with too few who tell him what he needs to know.

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      • akidd
        July 9, 2013

        hey pavo, i too see lou’s contract as ‘all lou’. i remember that summer. lou was really coy about where he wanted to play. gillis was desperate to both keep lou and demonstrate that vancouver was a destination of choice for free agents. lou, fully understanding cap constraints probably asked for about 8-9 million per year. the only way for gillis to keep lou was to offer that enormous term.

        meanwhile the sedins, who had similar clout at the time, settled for 6.5 mil each and a reasonable term.

        and then the captain lou nonsense.

        lou asked for the moon and got it. now that contract is wreaking havoc with all involved(including lou) and it’s really hard to feel to sorry for lou or not understand how gillis and the acquilinis might feel a bit of resentment over the deal, after being held over that barrel (and dropped in.) so that they might just try to squeeze lou out is a very real possiblilty.

        lou can be as funny and charming as he wants and maybe he’s a more humble guy now than the one who negotiated his contact but he certainly made his own bed so….

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        • Pavo
          July 9, 2013

          … and both Lou and the Canucks get to lie in it!

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  11. BBoone
    July 9, 2013

    The business part of this deal became very complicated. Canucks wanted to keep the less expensive and younger man. Then the goalposts were moved and business became business again.
    I am sure most reasonable adults assume that Roberto will appreciate that .
    Remember the team is still the team and they all understand how this happened.
    Canuck leadership will default to the most enlightened view which is ” no blame” and
    the team will move on as a very good team trying to win the Stanley Cup.

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