Only a week ago, national sports media outlets were picking up on several sensationalized quotes that Luongo gave to Harvey Fialkov (who described Luongo as “disgruntled”) of the Sun-Sentinel. South Beach may be Luongo’s preferred destination, but when the Strombonian one met with the media yesterday he said all the right things and appeared to be handling a summer of speculation with grace and good humour. In other words: he was very much gruntled.
We recap media reaction to Luongo’s public appearance after the jump.
Jason Botchford reads Luongo’s poker face, drops a detail about the Canucks “prepping” Luongo for his media session, and describes the star netminder as “toeing the line”:
“There may not be direct flights from Coral Springs to Vancouver, but there is a U-turn.
Roberto Luongo backed off his honest, edgy, outspoken offseason approach and portrayed himself as a good company man once again when he re-appeared in Vancouver Wednesday at the Canucks’ charity golf tournament.
After being prepped by Canucks’ staff, Luongo declined opportunities to discuss his desire to play in Florida, something he did just a few days ago. He distanced himself from comments he made earlier in the summer. He refused to say whether he’d accept a trade to Toronto, or anywhere else.
He added that if he started the season backing up de-facto starter Cory Schneider it wouldn’t be the end of the world… Even if you know he could see it from there.”
Iain Macintyre marvels at Luongo’s selflessness while noting that the greasily coiffed goalie’s best efforts aside: any attempt to quash the rampant speculation and “just fit in with the team” will be futile.
“…In the unlikely event there is a training camp and Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is willing to go with a $5.33-million backup, Luongo said he’ll report to the team for whatever role remains… He seems even better now than when he played.
“I have a lot of good friends on the team, even on the staff and coaching staff,” Luongo told reporters at Northview Golf Club. “It makes it a lot easier to be here. That’s why I’m here today. I didn’t really hesitate on deciding whether I should come or not.
“There’s no animosity whatsoever with Mike or the organization. We’ve been treated really well since the first day. Some-times these things take longer than others. I’m still playing in the NHL. I’m still playing with a bunch of guys that I love and respect. There’s no reason for me to be frustrated.”
So often perceived as a diva, the superstar who chose his goaltending coach and set his own schedule, Luongo said he is determined not to become a distraction. He will fail at that.”
David Ebner of the Globe and Mail turns his focus to Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis. Gillis seemed to imply that there are some teams that seem to expect a new collective bargaining agreement to include some variation of an “amnesty clause”:
Gillis has been accused of looking to get too much in a trade for a 33-year-old goaltender whose playoff performances have been erratic and who has $47.3-million (all currency U.S.) and a decade left on a contract with a $5.3-million-a-year cap hit.
“We’re one of the wealthiest teams in the league,” Gillis said. “We don’t have fire sales.”
Gillis, who also said he feels he remains in the Shane Doan lottery, said teams have been “pursuing us” for Luongo, and various scenarios have been floated. There is, Gillis suggested, the possibility of a multiteam trade. The collective agreement, however, is a problem, particularly because a new version might provide some amnesty on fat, long-term contracts.
“That has been part of the discussions that we’ve had with other teams, what if this and what if that,” Gillis said. “It’s impossible to predict what may be the outcome, so, you know, there’s some hesitancy on that front.”
Kevin Woodley observes that Luongo “didn’t sound like the same guy who talked about waiving his no trade clause” in April. I suppose those prep sessions with Vancouver’s media team worked wonders!
Luongo may not have played his last game with the Canucks. He didn’t sound like the same guy who talked about waiving his no-trade clause a few days after the season ended with him on the bench watching Cory Schneider start the final three games of a first-round playoff loss to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings. Or the guy who said, “it was time to move on” after Schneider signed a three-year, $12-million extension.
“Two months ago, after what had just happened and Schneids had just signed and I didn’t really see myself being here,” Luongo said in his first comments locally since the end of the season. “But I realized once we got into August that was a possibility and I was okay with that. Me and Schneids have a great relationship, whether it’s on the ice or off the ice, so I’m sure that’s not going to be an issue at all. I am going to do my job, whatever that is, if I am here, and I want to do it well and do it to my best and just be a good team guy.”
Luongo seemed determined to prove it Wednesday.
Finally, News 1130’s Scott Russell passes along that Luongo – and everyone else who follows the team – really didn’t “see himself” being at Canucks training camp this fall. It also seems like Louie is getting sick of fielding questions about his trade status (and understandably so):
“Obviously, we all want to know what the future holds… but sometimes, these things take longer than others,” said Luongo, who would not talk about any other teams that are interested, out of respect for his teammates…
Luongo, who continues to wait for a trade out of Vancouver, says that he is still in no rush to get a deal done and would be happy to start the season with the team if a trade can’t be done in time. He adds Vancouver is home too, and its “not the end of the world being back here.”
Asked about his comments earlier this summer in a Las Vegas radio interview that it was time to move on, he said that after Cory Schneider had re-signed, he didn’t see himself being at training camp, but realized when he got into August, it was a possibility.
Luongo notes that he will leave it up to Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis to update the media on any future developments and that there isn’t much to report.