Roberto Luongo: A study into the dynamics of facial expressions

Luongo in the stands

 (Can also be found under the alternate title,  “Yo Roberto, wtf?”)

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Roberto Luongo is one of the most polarizing sporting figures in Vancouver history. There haven’t been too many players that have gotten the city up in arms in a debate on a day to day basis like Roberto has. And if you add in the impact social media has had on the way we view players, well it’s no surprise that everyone you meet in Vancouver most likely has a theory or viewpoint about Roberto Luongo.  

“He eats too many hotdogs!” claims Wes from Vancouver. “He needs to adjust his T-Push, his angle is off by .3 degrees, any moron can see that” shouts Leah from White Rock. “His hair is pretty greasy, I think he needs to switch up shampoo brands” states Lena from Burnaby. It seems everyone has something to say about Roberto Luongo, good or bad.

As a result of all of this exposure we see from social media, and add in the huge media market that will dissect anything Canuck related, it leads to a lot of misinterpretations of Roberto Luongo, which is part of the reason I think some people dislike Luongo.

With no one to debunk the theories thrown out on Twitter or in the paper, they take on a life of their own and before you know it, it’s listed on Wikipedia as fact. And you know once it’s on Wikipedia, it’s locked into history forever. (Fun Fact: Geoff Sanderson, the two time Canuck who played here for only around four months, is shown on Wikipedia wearing a Canucks jersey).

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This is why I feel it is my duty to help fix this problem we currently face with Roberto Luongo. How you ask? Easy. By utilizing my minor in Psychology from UBC,  I am POSITIVE I am qualified to look, break down, and explain the facial expressions of one Roberto Luongo.

Many people view him in post game scrums looking surly, annoyed, or angry. Not so, says my minor in psych, not so. I will utilize my amazing background in taking multiple choice tests in psychology to not only tell you what Roberto isn’t thinking, but what he is thinking as well. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive straight into the mind of Vancouver’s number one goalie.


Luongo Face One


Common Misconceptions: Cocky, arrogant, smug, might have just slept with your girlfriend, doesn’t care if he lets in bad goals because he gets paid millions of dollars, is pondering the next episode of Breaking Bad wondering what crazy shenanigans Walter and Jesse will get up to next.

What’s Really Going on: Roberto Luongo likes to look back on past history and relive his previous glory. It’s something we all do, something we can all relate to. I often remember my hockey championships and remember the pain and looks of anguish on my opponents face. Nothing revitalizes me more than the tears of my opponent. Luongo uses this same technique to get through boring terrible interviews.

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If someone asks him a question about his glove hand being awful, he simply sits back and remembers beating Marty Turco in the playoffs. “Three shutouts Marty? Yeah, that’s pretty cool, except I won the series. How’s NHL life for you….oh….oh this is awkward….”  This allows Roberto to get through the interview without getting angry, falling asleep, or slapping the reporter. So when you see a smug Luongo, remember, he is most likely picturing Marty Turco failing at life.


Luongo Face 2


Common Misconceptions: Disrespectful, accusatory, annoyed, just found out Charlie’s Angels got cancelled, just found out that Naslund was getting his number retired, just saw Mark Lee asking for Nugent Hopkins autograph (“Can you tattoo that straight on my chest?”), just saw the series finale for Sopranos (“What? What happened??”)

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What’s Really Going on: Again, people seem to think this is something negative, when it fact, it is completely the opposite. What Luongo is doing here, is contemplating what toppings to get on his next slice of pizza. Yes, it may seem odd, but this is yet another calming technique used by Luongo to make sure he doesn’t get angry and thrown off his game. Did Keith Ballard just make a mind numbingly stupid decision while going for a line change that resulted in a goal?

Instead of glaring at Keith and swearing at him, Luongo instead envisions Keith as a piece of pizza and wonders what toppings he is missing. By doing this, it calms Luongo down, gets him to focus away from the anger, and allows him to move on. It gets confusing when after the game Luongo goes up to Ballard and tells him he needs more pepperoni in his life, but at least an angry outburst was avoided.

Luongo Face 3


Common Misconceptions:  Happy, laid back, relaxed, a good natured guy, enjoying life, thinking of round one when he beat Chicago, remember that time he skipped in line at the NHL Awards show buffet ahead of Jonathan Toews, remember that time Byfuglien shut down the buffet at the NHL All-Star weekend

What’s Really Going on: Funnily enough, this is actually the worst thing you can ever see on Luongo’s face. I know from just looking at the relaxed smile you think everything is fine with Roberto, but if you look into his eyes, that’s where you can see the real story. In his eyes you can see the anger burning just underneath the surface, just about to boil and unleash itself upon the world.

An anger so large that it would take an army of police to stop him should he decide to act on his aggression. An anger on par with Mark Messier finding out that the local strip club has shut down for the night. What could cause such an anger you ask? Simple. MarchandisaChampian143 on BC Poker online just went all in with a 9 4 off suit, and caught two fours to win the pot. So if you ever see this expression on Luongo’s face, just back away. And then run.


Luongo Face 4


Common Misconceptions:  Confused, uncertain, about to enter a shootout, about to face a shot from behind the net, was told Raffi Torres has not been re-resigned, has to use the washroom between periods during the playoffs

What’s Really Going on: As with many of his expressions, Luongo is once again using a psychological technique to help calm him down and allow him to focus. So while the world sees a confused, uncertain Luongo, what Luongo is really doing is thinking of his biggest fear, which allows him to realize that any other fear he may have is pretty meaningless in comparison.

And what is that fear you ask?

Being on a Mike Milbury run team. From the fear of being beaten with a shoe, to a fear of being traded for Rick DiPietro, the fears of being on a Mike Milbury team run long and deep. You could go to the rink one day and end up going home after being traded for Zdeno Chara’s right shoe (Because if Milbury is going to beat someone with a shoe, he is going to beat them with the biggest shoe he can find, damnit.) So while shootouts might seem scary to Bobby Lou, nothing is scarier than knowing Mike Milbury is the person in charge of your professional career.


Luongo Face 5


Common Misconceptions:  He is not thirsty

What’s Really Going on: He is thirsty.


Luongo Face 6


Common Misconceptions:  Upset. Angry with the coach and or team. Annoyed. Thinking of ways he can hurt Kevin Bieksa for that ill-timed pinch. Wondering why Hamhuis decided to try and hip check a mountain of a man in Lucic. Trying to make a car float with his mind. Listening to his inner Ralph Wiggum and pondering burning things.

What’s Really Going on: Luongo again comes across a bit petulant with this look, but as you may have guessed by now, this is yet another technique being used by Luongo to try and move away from the anger that is consuming him, and towards a nice balanced frame of mind so that he can bounce back from a bad game. The technique is called “The Towel” and it is based off of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

It utilizes the theory that a towel should be able to provide nutrients that you can suck out of it at any time, thus playing up to the idea of a towel being a universally useful item. In this case, Luongo is not sucking nutrients out of a towel, but he is sucking nutrients out of his jersey, which was pre-soaked in diazepam (Valium). This allows him to reach a calm state much quicker than anything else, as well as allows him to sleep for 36 hours straight. So anytime you see Luongo’s head dip into his jersey and glare, don’t worry, he’s just having Valium.


Luongo face 7

Common Misconceptions: Sad, disappointed, upset, ashamed, repentant, wondering if he left the stove on quickly followed up by confirming he left the stove on, has to wait a while for the next season of Breaking Bad, just picked up Mikael Samuelsson in his pool by accident, found out Aaron Rome is coming back soon

What’s Really Going on: This is Luongo focusing on all of the failures in his career. Thinking of all of the losses he has endured. All of the criticism he has had to listen to. Thinking of all the people who doubted him. So he can use all of that as more motivation to win the Stanley Cup. So he can turn around and show people the Stanley Cup he won for this city.

If I can recognize one thing in people, it’s competitiveness, and Luongo is probably the most competitive guy on this team. So while many people doubt Luongo and don’t think he can bring a cup to this city, I believe he can. And if he doesn’t, I will never blame him for not trying hard enough. I will never blame him for not wanting it enough. Roberto Luongo wants to win more than anyone and I hope he does it in a Vancouver jersey. Nothing is sweeter than proving people wrong, and I think Roberto knows this. So I am on Team Roberto this year, and I hope it’s a long  and successful run.

But Roberto, you really do suck in shootouts. Thank God there are no shootouts in the playoffs.