On Tuesday, the Vancouver Sun’s own Iain Macintyre theorized on Twitter that Roberto Luongo would make a statement before Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp. Without a clear statement from Luongo that he was returning to the Canucks, the media circus surrounding Luongo would surely overshadow the camp.
Sure enough, Luongo sat down with his good friend James Duthie at TSN to bring the saga to some sort of conclusion.
Really, there was little in the way of new information. We already knew that Luongo was coming to training camp and would honour his contract, which is all that really mattered. The only difference is that we got to hear it directly from Luongo. He also gave a little bit of insight into his state of mind over the last year, from not getting traded at the deadline to hearing that Cory Schneider was traded at the draft.
Unlike his previous interviews this off-season, Luongo didn’t say a word about poker, which will surely disappoint some of his fans. Right? No?
Duthie, knowing what people want to know, asked the most important question: Are you going to show up at Canucks camp motivated to be the starting goaltender for that team?
“Yeah, no doubt,” Luongo replied, which sounded fantastic until he continued. “I mean, I have a contract. I plan to honour it. There’s a lot at stake for me this year. First and foremost I want to re-establish myself as one of the top goalies in the league.”
What people really want to hear is that Luongo is happy with how things turned out, thrilled to be back with the Canucks, and excited for the opportunity to continue playing in Vancouver. In other words, people want him to lie. Luongo isn’t happy with how things turned out, but he’s also a professional who will honour his contract and play his absolute best for his team and prove to his detractors that he is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL
“I had come to the conclusion that I had moved on from Vancouver and I was ready to start a fresh new chapter of my career somewhere else.” Duthie then asked him if it felt like a divorce, which Luongo agreed with. “I use that analogy all the time. That’s what it felt like and I had accepted it and was fine with it and had moved on, personally. The only problem is she wanted me back.”
As for how Luongo found out that Schneider had been traded, it happened at the last minute. Francesco Aquilini visited Luongo in person in Florida. He showed up a few picks into the draft, asked him to turn off the TV since Luongo was watching draft coverage at the time, and let him know that the Canucks had traded Cory Schneider just moments before Luongo’s phone started blowing up.
“I was kind of floored, to be honest with you,” Luongo said. “Out of all the situations that I envisioned that could possibly happen, that wasn’t one of them…I wasn’t angry, just shocked, mostly. I was just trying to figure out the reasons why a decision like that would be made, especially without consulting me. That’s a pretty big move to make without having an input from the guy you’re going to put your trust in.”
This means that the Canucks traded Schneider without checking with Luongo to ensure he was on board with returning to the Canucks, which is concerning. It also means that Francesco Aquilini is the kind of guy who asks people to turn off their own TVs when he visits their house, which is less concerning, but still.
When it comes to returning to the Canucks next season, Luongo’s still coming to grips with it, though he says he’s “ready to go” and has been training hard in preparation for camp. He’s “turned the corner” in his words. I suspect that actually getting on the ice with his teammates will help a great deal. Without games to play, there’s too much time to think and worry.
Duthie then looked back at the trade deadline and earlier, asking Luongo if he turned down a trade.
“I never turned down a trade,” Luongo replied, which is about as clear as it gets. “What happened was, one or two days before last year’s draft, Mike told me that there were two or three teams that were interested. He said ‘interested,’ he never said, ‘I have a trade for this team or this team,’ and all I said to Mike was, ‘Mike, if you can try to do something with either Florida or Tampa, I would appreciate that and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll move on.’”
“There was never a trade on the table that I turned down.”
This sounds very similar to what I suggested had occurred back in April. Luongo never actually had to use his no trade clause, but he did ask Gillis to try to get a deal done with Florida (or Tampa, it turns out) before pursuing any deals elsewhere.
They did ask Luongo to waive his no trade clause at the trade deadline this year, to the point that he actually signed the waiver. That’s part of why he ended up so emotional, as he went straight from thinking that he had been traded to Gillis walking in and telling him the deal fell through. “I might have cried in front of another man,” said Luongo, grinning.
Duthie then asked if he regretted the famous quote after the trade deadline: “My contract sucks.”
“I don’t regret it. I meant what I said,” he made clear, “I kind of still feel that way. I’m very grateful for the life I have doing something that I love and getting paid well to do it. There’s no doubt about that.”
Luongo even looked into voiding his contract. “I explored every possibility and that was definitely one of them. At that point, there’s different logistics to something like that and it’s very complicated, but definitely it was something that I was looking at and ready to do if the opportunity came up.”
If that concerns Canucks fans (it concerns me a little bit), he assuaged those fears with the final statement of the interview.
“Wherever I am, I’m going to be 100% committed to that place. Right now I’m in Vancouver and I’m 100% committed to that.”Tags: James Duthie, Roberto Luongo