When Roberto Luongo was pulled off the ice at the end of practice, a number of people speculated there was a deal in place. Hell, he even thought so. There wasn’t.
Instead, Luongo held a press conference explaining where he’s at, offering the following quotes:
"I'm human and sometimes it gets to you. . .My contract sucks...that's probably the reason I am still here."
Luongo on his contract: "I'd scrap it if I could right now."
"I don't regret the way I have handled things."
"I am going to gether myself for the rest of the day & make sure when I come to work tomorrow I will be 100 per cent dedicated to this team."
"It's a hit on your pride that teams aren't willing to give up much"
Luongo was also asked if the difficulties in getting out of the contract were fully explored when he signed the deal, and he was asked if he had personally changed his stance since, several months ago, he said he could dictate a trade out of town on his own circumstances.
“That’s a good question and a tough one to answer,” Luongo said.
“I was never approached with a trade somewhere else . . . obviously, other teams were interested but nothing ever materialized to the point where I would have to waive off or not (no trade clause).
" I love this team and I love this city, and the goal is the Stanley Cup"
Obviously he’s going to play his best in Vancouver, but it has to suck operating with one foot out the door. He deserves a lot of credit for handling this as he has. Not everyone – hell, not many NHLers – would take things so well. Especially not proven stars.
Luongo, Canucks mired in lose-lose situation
Vancouver Canucks fail to move goalie at trade deadline
By Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun columnist
It wasn’t Roberto Luongo’s contract last summer that undermined the Vancouver Canucks’ attempt to trade him, but his singular focus on going to the Florida Panthers.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs, run back then by Brian Burke, were ready to negotiate a trade, Luongo reiterated his desire to play only in South Florida.
Wednesday, with the goaltender desperate to go somewhere he can start, the Maple Leafs reportedly rejected Canuck trade offers three times in the final hour before the National Hockey League dealing deadline.
At least new Toronto general manager Dave Nonis answered the phone.
It would make a delicious storyline if Nonis, who always felt Canuck general manager Mike Gillis stuck a shiv in him five years ago, exacted revenge by leaving his successor stuck with Luongo.
But it was likely the goalie’s $64-million contract that scared the Maple Leafs as it certainly has other teams.
Luongo would probably like a do-over on last summer.
A lot of this is his fault.
But there’s no sport in battering someone who’s down, and Luongo was never lower than on Wednesday when he was whisked from the ice to management offices at Rogers Arena and informed the Canucks could find no taker for him.
In the emotional 12 months since he was deposed in goal by Cory Schneider, Luongo has felt many things. But unwanted was probably not one of them until Wednesday.
Luongo looked beaten.
“My contract sucks,” the 34-year-old told reporters, his anguish evident, his fall complete. “That’s what the problem is. Unfortunately, it’s a big factor in trading me and it’s probably why I’m still here.
“I’d scrap it if I could right now.”
Luongo has nine seasons and more than $40-million left on his 12-year deal. He would give that up for a chance to be a starter again in a city of his choosing?
“I think he was very emotional,” Gillis said. “These days are emotional for everybody. Where you have a day like this, where your whole life could be turned upside down ... I think there’s an opportunity for things to be said that in the clear light of day might not be reflecting how you really feel.
“I think he said that in a highly emotional state. I think that as Roberto settles down and we get through decompressing ... we’ll have a discussion about the future with him again.”
It’s hard to see how the market gets better for Luongo.
The National Hockey League economy – at least as it relates to players – shrinks after this season when the salary cap dives to $64.3 million from $70.2 million. Luongo’s albatross of a contract isn’t going to be any more appealing in the summer.
The consequences for the Canucks are more immediate. While trying to win a Stanley Cup this spring, they have $5.33 million of payroll invested in a guy sitting on the bench when that money could have significantly upgraded the team at other positions.
This is a lose-lose for player and team.
“At the time it was done, it was very favourable for this organization and it was very favourable for Roberto,” Gillis said of the contract negotiated in 2009. “The top teams in the league that were competing for Stanley Cups did contracts like this for franchise players.
“Since that occurred, there have been a number of changes (in NHL dynamics). It’s a fluid industry; things do change. There have been a lot of shifting sands and we’re going to have to deal with it as we move down the road.
“I do feel obligated to trade Roberto and get him into a position where he’s happy and competing the way he likes to and at the level he’s accustomed to. The need of our team also plays a role and trying to balance them are a difficult thing.”
If Luongo is serious about escaping his contract, he can withhold services, which would allow the Canucks to terminate the deal. But the team would first have to place him on waivers, meaning Luongo would have no input on where he plays and could be claimed for a fee of $125.
It was hard not to feel sorry for him on Wednesday. He has been humbled and embarrassed, a totem chopped to the ground.
“I think it’s more, honestly, a hit on your pride that teams aren’t willing to give up much,” he said of his feelings. “I don’t think disappointment is the right word. It’s been an emotional ride, the last year. I think it’s more the unknown that has gotten to me more than anything else. I’m human and sometimes it gets to you.”
Luongo has never seemed more human than during the last year, when he has maintained dignity, his sense of humour and loyalty to Schneider and the Canucks when the goaltending situation could have become toxic enough to choke the entire team.
“I’m going to gather myself for the rest of the day,” he said, “and make sure when I come to work tomorrow, I’m going to be 100 per cent dedicated to this team the rest of the year, no matter what that capacity is.”
How would he write his saga?
“TBD – to be determined.”
Today is Luongo’s birthday. Bet he has never felt older.
Money can't buy Luongo's happiness
By Jason Botchford, The Province
A $64-million contract can buy a player a lot of things, but playing time isn’t one of them.
Neither is happiness.
Roberto Luongo is lacking both, something he detailed in an awkwardly human, emotionally raw press conference that he handled like he’s handled everything else this year — beautifully.
In a few days, the humiliation of feeling unwanted will fade. In a few months, he will be traded — we think — and all of this will be a bitter memory, one he will use to fuel the next chapter of his career.
There was something wrong about seeing Luongo Wednesday at the podium, humbled and forced to explain what it felt like not to be traded. It couldn’t have been easy explaining that no one really wanted him.
His honesty was exhilarating, however, especially when he declared he’d annul his contract if the CBA allowed for it.
“My contract sucks,” he said. “That’s what the problem is. Unfortunately, it’s a big factor in trading me. And it’s why I’m still here.
“I’d scrap it if I could right now.”
Despite all the millions he’s made, and will make, to hear him describe his 12-year, $64-million deal as an anchor provided a keyhole into his heart and soul.
He wants to play, desperately so, and who among us who has ever played a sport at any level can’t relate with that?
It was hard not to feel some sympathy for Lu, especially when he admitted his pride was dented because the bidding war he expected in the offseason never materialized. Not then, and not on Wednesday before the noon deadline.
It leaves a situation no one wanted, or thought possible, a year ago. Luongo will be a Canuck for the rest of the season.
Of course, things could have been different. Maybe if he was less loyal, and more of a malcontent he’d have what he craves. Maybe if was more about himself and less about the team, he’d be a clear-cut starter again.
“I’m not disappointed in the way I handled the situation,” Luongo said. “I tried to handle it the right way and not create any negative energy around the team. I don’t regret the way I handled things.”
The Canucks put on a big push to move him in the final hour, making several calls to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But every time they called, the Leafs changed what they were willing to give up for him.
One time it was nothing but a prospect. On the next call, it was only a player. Then it was just draft picks.
In the end, the Canucks asked for backup goalie Ben Scrivens and two second-round draft picks.
Toronto still said no. That offer leaked out hours later.
As if Luongo’s pride hasn’t taken enough of a hit.
It leaves you wondering how serious the Leafs were, and if a lot of their alleged interest in Luongo was really a put on or a long con. If it was, and they were sure to always keep the dialogue going, that’s quite the emotional mudslide they dragged Luongo through.
“It has been an emotional ride the last year,” he said. “I think it is more the unknown that has gotten to me more than anything else. I’m human, and sometimes it gets to you.”
Both Luongo and GM Mike Gillis held press conferences when it was over, making Wednesday possibly the first time ever there were duelling pressers in Rogers Arena to explain why a player wasn’t traded.
Something in them felt a little cheap when it turned into ‘he said, he said’ territory over the issue of Luongo’s no-trade clause.
Luongo said he was never presented with a trade. But Gillis said they did have discussions about whether he’d be willing to waive his NTC, suggesting it was actually a bigger issue than his contract.
“I’ve never been told there was a stumbling block (with his contract),” Gillis said. “The discussions we’ve had didn’t surround a stumbling block, they surrounded players, draft picks, places where he might go. Those were bigger hurdles than discussions about his contract.”
Really, they were both right. At the draft, talks between the Canucks and the Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets were moving past toddler stage, and Vancouver wanted to know if Luongo would be willing to waive. At the time, he still believed Florida was going to come hard for him, and said no. It essentially ended talks at the draft with any team but the Panthers.
Months later, when the Florida push never materialized, Luongo was open to places like Toronto. But even then Toronto and Vancouver could never consummate a deal.
It may never have been possible.
“Obviously, in the last couple of weeks things have been emotionally tough for me as far as where I’m going,” Luongo said. “But now I can really make sure I’m focusing on the right thing.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBERTO LUONGO!!!
Edited by Vancouver Canucks 30, 04 April 2013 - 12:23 AM.