Roberto Luongo breaks silence, speaks with TSN’s James Duthie

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As we covered earlier today, James Duthie of TSN got the first interview with Roberto Luongo as he gets himself out into the press before the start of the Canadian Olympic Camp in Calgary this week. The interview took place at Luongo’s home in Florida and covered a variety of topics in two parts.

A third part airs tomorrow. The first two parts are on TSN’s video player, but we’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the interview below. *UPDATE* this post now includes the third part.

Part 1

Roberto, what has the last year been like for you?

Heh. Where do I begin?

The most pressing question is are you going to show up to Canucks camp motivated to be the starting goalie for that team?

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Yeah, no doubt. I have a contract, I plan to honour it, I think 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.

When you say you’re going to honour your contract, that doesn’t sound like a guy that’s happy with the situation.

Things have happened over the last little while that… I’d moved on. I’d moved on from Vancouver and I was ready to start a fresh new chapter of my career somewhere else.

Did it feel like a divorce, in that you were already divorced from the Canucks?

Well I used that analogy all the time. That’s what it felt like and I accepted it. I had moved on, personally. I mean, the only problem is that she didn’t, and she wanted me back.

Let’s go back to draft day, June 30th. Gary Bettman steps to the podium. [clip of Bettman announcing the Cory Schneider trade] How did you find out about the trade?

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Francesco Aquilini, the owner of the team, called me in the morning and asked… he was in Florida and asked if he could come visit me and uh, I was like “yeah, no problem”. I thought he just wanted to talk to me about my future and stuff like that and he showed up about three or four picks into the draft so he sits on the couch and he asks me to turn the TV off because I was watching the draft. So I said “oh, okay” and all of a sudden he tells me that Schneider’s been traded. As he says this, my phone starts blowing up, it was like perfect timing. It was kind of forward, to be honest with you. Out of all the situations that I’d envisioned that possibly would have been happening to me, that wasn’t really one of them.

So what did you say to him?

Uh… I don’t remember. I just kind of blacked out after that. 

Were you angry, were you upset?

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I wasn’t angry, I was just shocked really. You know, I was just trying to figure out the reasons, you know, why a decision like that would be made especially without consulting me. I mean, that’s a pretty big move to make without having input from the guy you’re going to put your trust in.

How was it the minutes and hours after that coming to grips with the fact it was Schneids that was gone and you were back to being a starting goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks?

Well, you know I’m still working on that part, so, you know…

You still not quite there yet?

Well, you know, I’m there. I’m ready to go. I’ve turned the corner, and I’ve made a lot of good steps.

It almost sounds like you’re talking like you were in rehab. “I’ve made some progress, I’m getting there…”

Well, I might need some.

Part 2

When this all started 14 months ago, I know that playing in Florida was your preference. Your wife Gina, her family are from here it’s where we’re doing this interview right now. Did you turn down a trade to Toronto or someplace else in those early days?

I never turned down a trade. What happened was a couple… one or two days before last year’s draft, Mike just told me that there was two or three teams were interested. He just said “interested”, he never said “I have a trade for this team or this team” and all I said was “Mike, if you can, if you could do something with either Florida or Tampa, I would appreciate that, and if it doesn’t work out we can move on.”

So I think that was the gist of it. I never turned down a trade…

No actual trade was brought?

There was never an actual trade on the table that I turned down. And that was the real story, unfortunately, there’s been a million other stories since then and sometimes you don’t want to get involved in that kind of stuff, but just to set the record straight, that’s what really happened.

Draft Day was not the first time you thought you might be traded shortly. Take us back to trade deadline day.

Ten minutes before the deadline was over, I get yanked off the ice, and they tell me to hurry up and get to Mike’s office, so I rush over there and as I’m entering the office, they hand me the paper to sign the no waiver, and I say “woah,” so it became real at that point that this was probably it. And I soon as I sat down in Mike’s office, he walked in and said that the deal fell through and there was no trade.

Did you get emotional?

Yeah I did. Not because I was angry, or whatnot, but I think of the range of the emotion and leading up to that day and in the last hour or two and uh, thinking you were traded one second and realizing you were not and it just got to me for a second there. And uh, I might have cried in front of another man.

When you met with media after, you said three very telling words [clip of Luongo saying “my contract sucks”] there was certainly some that said “how can somebody that makes that kind of money stand up there and say ‘my contract sucks?'” Do you regret it at all?

I don’t regret it, I meant what I said. I kind of still feel that way. You know I’m very grateful for the life that I have and doing something that I love and getting that, you know, paid well to do it. There’s no doubt about that.

Did you look into actually voiding your contract at the end of the season when trade talks were going nowhere? Did you contemplate that and look into it?

I explored every possibility and that was definitely one of them. Um… you know when at that point there’s different logistics to something like that and it’s very complicated but it was definitely something that I was looking at and ready to do if the opportunity came up.

So you were ready to walk away from $35-million?

Yeah I was ready to walk away and sign somewhere else for a lesser term for less money.

So now what? Do you still want to be traded?

You know, I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t know what’s going to happen down the road, but 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.

Part 3

We had some fun this year with you and Cory Schneider, and the battle to be No. 1. Did you ever think it would end like that?

We spoken a few times, draft day… a bunch of other times after that, mostly through texts. Yeah… I mean I think he was probably as shocked as I was. I kind of feel bad for him, because he deserves to be a starter and he’s going to have to wait now with Marty there.

Isn’t that the craziest thing about this? The fact that neither of you guys got what you wanted?

It kind of is crazy, but in a way I’m kind of lucky because I get to start, and play, which is all you can ask for at this point. With Marty there obviously he’s going to have to share the net, which kind of sucks for a guy like Schneids that’s ready to be a superstar in this league.

Roberto, let’s talk about your alter ego. What or who is a Strombone One?

Uh… I need a cut for a second?

No cutting here. There’s no off the record.

Well I can’t tell you. I can’t say it on camera.

Is it dirty?

Yes. Honestly, we’d have to cut no seriously… if you want me to tell you what it is, we have to cut.

<Feed cuts> It was a good idea to cut the camera. We’ll just move on. Your avatar is just this mysterious goalie with a question mark, but we all know it’s you, right?

Is it?

Oh come on, we all know it’s you, right?

Oh, you know, probably, I don’t know.

Just officially admit it. You’ve danced around it forever.

Well I just want to leave the question mark up there, is that okay? Because it’s my symbol.

Well people thought it was about what team you were going to play for.

Yeah, it’s not. I never put that to symbolize what team I was going to play for. It was always like “is it the goalie, or not?” That’s what it’s there for.

Let’s go through some of the moments. The Schneider trade, you told us how incredibly emotional that was, when you found out Schneider’s been traded and not you, and yet hours later you tweet #NOtradeclause. As in, “I can’t get traded!” right?

If ever there was a tweet that was a forced, I think that one was forced a little bit. It wasn’t really…

Your best material?

No, it was great. I thought it was a great tweet, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be sending a tweet at that moment I think.

Back in the spring after the season was over, when you’re really antsy about getting traded, you tweet, all caps: “I’M WILLING TO STAY, BE THE BACK UP AND PLAY FOR FREE IF THEY LET ME SIT IN AT EVERY TORTS PRESSER! #MAN #MYTH #LEGEND”

Well did you guys not watch 24/7? It’s pretty awesome when… I was serious. I was serious, because uh… I just find that hilarious watching all the pressers especially when they bunch them all up together on Youtube and you can watch three or four minute segments and this will… Torts is not going to see this is he?

Here’s the confusing part. You told us what an emotional year this was, how tough it was on you, and at the same time all this stuff is happening, you’re cracking all these jokes on Twitter. So… does that mean you have some sort of split personality?

I don’t know, does it? I mean it has been a tough year emotionally, but at the same time there are a lot of things in life that are far worse than that, and I try to… that’s the way I kind of deal with my situations. I try to make light of it, make fun of it, it helps me handle it better.

So will the alter ego of @Strombone1, Roberto Luongo, be the starting goalie for Canada when they open the Olympics, February 13th against Norway?

Is that a trick question?


Well yeah. I’d love to. That’s one of my main goals for this year. I remember four years ago what a great moment that was in all of Canada so if I get a chance, I’d love the opportunity again to represent my country, no doubt.

Only one of the last ten FIrst or Second Team NHL All-Stars has been a Canadian goaltender. The Canadian Hockey League is banning European goaltenders. What’s wrong with Canadian goaltending?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, I think other countries have caught up to us and are right there battling with us, so there’s a lot of goalie coaches overseas now, working on goalies all the time, and it shows. It shows a lot in their game and a lot of talent coming from overseas because they work so hard on their game as well and it’s like the Canadians do, it’s like what we’ve done for so many years and maybe we were ahead of the curb and now probably other countries have caught up to us.

Well last time you won a gold medal, you wrote a wonderful, touching poem about it. Might we have to do a sequel to that if things go well in Sochi?


For sure, anytime.

Some Thoughts

  • What’s more telling about the interview is the topics not covered. Part Three was advertised as covering Luongo’s online presence as well as his relationship with Cory Schneider, but we didn’t get to hear about certain things like his relationship with Mike Gillis or perhaps why he fired Gilles Lupien earlier this summer.
  • Depending on whether you hold a media credential for the Canucks or for the Maple Leafs, you have a differing viewpoint on how Deadline Day 2013 took place. I think Gillis was in the same situation as Luongo, and never had a chance to say “yes” on a deal that he regrets not taking in retrospect.
  • Luongo’s a fierce competitor and a great goaltender, and he probably still has multiple good years left in him. I doubt he was really willing to walk away from the remainder on his contract, but it would be interesting to hear what eventually held him back from making a step like holding out from camp.
  • The way the Canucks jerked him around on Deadline Day and Draft Day are not ideal. I don’t really see any way that they could have done it better, but the image of Luongo ready to sign the no-trade waiver and having Gillis coming in and saying “no deal” isn’t pleasant. Perhaps they could have asked Luongo before they wound up making the Schneider-for-a-pick trade for his input, or softened the blow, but ultimately the organization had to tell him about a decision, and the team owner showing up at his house is, well, just so movie-like.
  • As a Canucks blogger based in Vancouver, I’m happy Luongo will be back.

  • Fred-65

    “I think Gillis was in the same situation as Luongo, and never had a chance to say “yes” on a deal that he regrets not taking in retrospect.”

    While that may very well have been true at the 2013 trade deadline, was it true through out the entire process that began at the 2012 draft?

    “Mike, if you can, if you could do something with either Florida or Tampa, I would appreciate that, and if it doesn’t work out we can move on.”

    If Luongo is telling the truth, he gave Gillis a preference but was open to other destinations from the start of the process.

    Which is a perfectly acceptable use of a NTC.

    He gave no indication about forcing a trade.

    I’d be curious to hear Gillis’ interpretation of the events if he’d ever be willing to share.

    Even with his warts, Luongo is my favourite Canuck of all time.

    If he wants a fresh start, I hope he gets one ASAP.

    Thanks for the transcript!

  • Fred-65

    Interesting how he felt someone should’ve consulted him on the Schneider trade. Personally, I think that’s idiotic. I don’t remember Lu having the GM titles in his name.

    Yup, he got jerked around by AV. Gillis tried to deal him but it never worked. Boo hoo. That’s sports. I’m not defending AV or Gillis but they really didn’t do anything that bad. Give me a break. The guy is making a ton of money to play a game. He is leading a pretty charmed life.

    I think it’s obvious Lu wants out. I hope he does go. He has become a huge distraction and his subtle sense of entitlement is rubbing me the wrong way. To Lu’s credit, he is saying the right things and claims he is back in 100%. We’ll see.

    • acg5151

      It’s not really Luongo’s fault that he became a distraction in the first place. Cory Schneider should have been traded two years ago – he would have fetched higher value and none of this BS would have ever happened.

      Roberto Luongo is the greatest Canucks goalie ever. He got the Canucks within one game of the Stanley Cup finals despite the fact that the Canucks only scored like 8 goals the whole 7 games. He has more wins than any other goalie, has carried this team on his back plenty of times, and the fans in Vancouver took a fat dump all over him for the last two years.

      Quite frankly, Roberto Luongo has earned some entitlement. He’s the greatest Canucks goalie ever. He will most likely have his number retired at some point in the next 20 years. This team has thrown him under the bus and treated him like garbage. You don’t jerk your franchise goaltender around like that – in a position that is one of the most mentally oriented not just in hockey, but in all of sports. As far as I’m concerned, the Canucks had better start kissing his behind because they’ve got a lot more of that to do. If I was Luongo I probably would have voided my contract after Cory Schneider was traded just to stick it to Mike Gillis.

      • Fred-65

        I agree Lu has been the greatest Canuck keeper but that does not mean entitlement. Lu has done great stuff here and I think the fan animosity stems from his lapses. We know he can be all-world all the time but the odd lapse kills him (numerous playoff games against Chi and the Boston finals come to mind). He hasn’t won a Cup here. It seems like he has taken a new approach so maybe the lapses are gone.

        There is no way Schneids should’ve been dealt 2 years ago. He was still unproven and he would’ve fetched less than he did. Also, Lu was older so it made sense to move Lu. Sadly, Gillis signed him to a moronic contract and now we’re stuck with him.

        Personally, I would love to see Lu move on even if we get nothing in return. I’d change my mind if his new outlook improves his overall game but I don’t see that happening.

        • andyg

          Schneider didn’t really prove his worth until last season.

          I think the mistake that Gillis made was trying to give Luongo what he wanted instead of what was the best for the team. He should have made it clear that one of them would be moved.The one that brought the best return.

      • Fred-65

        Luongo is untouchable. He is a made man now. He can say anything he wants to whoever he wants and nobody in the Vancouver organization can do anything except ride his D.

        If you think about it, what’s the worst that can happen? They try to trade him? They make him the backup? They embarass him to fans and media alike?

        After this whole fiasco, ownership has given Luongo carte blanche with the media. They screwed him and his family for over a year, and then begged him to come back.

        Luongo is beyond entitlement.

        He is untouchable.

  • Fred-65

    Lu’s a great goalie who obviously still doesn’t particularly want to be there. I think Gillis might be gone soon if for no other reason than he’s done a pretty terrible job of maintaining good relationships with players.

    • Fred-65

      What makes you think Gillis is close to getting fired?

      Aquillini just bought him a farm team and allowed him to sign a coach to a 5 year contract.

      We’re all on Gillis’ time as he enters the job saving part of his tenure.

      But I’m pretty sure he gets a 7th year at minimum even if the Canucks somehow miss the playoffs this year.

      After all, he was Aquillini’s hand picked choice.

      Nobody else gave Gillis a GM job before Aquillini.

      Nobody else will give him a GM job after Aquillini eventually fires him.

      A scary proposition since Gillis is in moral hazard territory.

      • Reg Dunlop

        I was on a phone, it’s easy to be unclear when you’re typing on a phone. I agree with everything you said. I don’t think he’ll be fired. I think his inability to really build good relationships should get him fired, however, I don’t believe he will be.

        The worst thing for a GM to have a reputation for is being bad at keeping good relations with players.

        • It’s too bad TSN couldn’t pan over to the Gillis-shaped dartboard in Luongo’s home.

          As much as his relationship-building skills could use some work, I could live with that if he was a better asset manager.

          But, yeah, it doesn’t appear that Vancouver is a particularly player-friendly environment at the moment.

  • Fred-65

    I don’t have as much vitriol towards Gillis as some others on this site. Having said that I do find it a little perplexing that a former player agent seems to, at times, have difficulty maintaining communicative relationships with his players.

    • Fred-65

      “There are certainly some issues that the league needs to take control off when players’ names are being thrown around. You’re talking about lives and families and those things need to be kept confidential when you may be discussing a transaction of some type. There was a mention of player’s names, which was very upsetting for them, and it doesn’t make me feel very good.”

      How does Gillis go from talking about confidentiality in regards to a Bieksa/Burrows rumour to OPENLY shopping Edler before his NTC kicked in?


  • JCDavies

    There are definitely a lot of details that could come out. The 2 things I do believe are that Luo was never going to walk away from 40 mil and go to Tampa or Fla…..and that Gillis was asking too much considering the length of Luo’s contract. The deadline office situation sounds like the deal fell through at the last minute, but the draft day scenario sounds Mickey Mouse to me. My question is was Aquilini in Fla by accident or on purpose? Gillis should have let him know. Lastly, I don’t know if I can sincerely trust a hockey player that says he wants to play in Fla or Tampa. Those are franchises you go to because you want to be unknown and want to play golf on days off… Not work. Right Jovo?? I put Phoenix in there also.

    • JCDavies

      “There are definitely a lot of details that could come out.”

      The interview was done by someone Lou considers a good friend, there were bound to be questions left unasked.

  • JCDavies

    I hate to be a stick in the mud here but isn’t this the year his opt out clause kicks in? It hasn’t really been mentioned but his opt out comes following this season. Which means this isn’t going away anytime soon.
    On the bright side at least we know what the question of the year is going to be and the endless variants of it. Can’t see the press backing off of this one anytime in the near future.
    The one single thing I pray for daily to the Hockey Gods for the Canucks this season, is Lu plays lights out enough to shut more than a few people up. The silence would be Golden.

  • JCDavies

    Great work with the transcript!!

    I have mixed feelings about this whole disaster. A disaster which will continue till the end of time I’m sure. I can see this dilemma from both sides, and it’s clear both sides screwed up.

    Despite what Luongo says, both Botchford, MCkenzie, Gillis and McIntye have all stated Luongo told Gillis all last summer “I only want to go to Fla’. So of course Gillis never had a chance to ask him to waive his NTC – he couldn’t get into heavy duty negotiations with any other team. That was Luongos biggest mistake – and his agents. Probably why his old agent is at the curb. It was the most ideal time to trade that contract.

    After the new CBA, things obviously changed. The landscape changed, there was more supply of goalies on the market.

    The only way things turn out different for Luongo is if:
    a) He didn’t provide a list of 1 team during the most ideal time to trade him
    b) Aquilini found some balls, ponyed up and bought Luongo out. He should have done this. If welfare Tampa and NYI can do it, then a wealthy Aquilini should have. The drama would be over. The chaos surrounding the team and it’s goaltending would be over. We wouldn’t be having this very conversation. Instead, it hovers over the team till Luongo retires.

    I feel for Luongo, I also feel for Gillis. Gillis has become the ‘face’ of this disaster, but it was pretty much out of his hands. Too bad Aquilini is such a puss.

    • andyg

      “Despite what Luongo says, both Botchford, MCkenzie, Gillis and McIntye have all stated Luongo told Gillis all last summer.”

      Why are you trusting a number of secondary sources over a primary source?

  • Reg Dunlop

    A quick trip to the hinterland of Nation network reveals that Vancouver is blighted by a stats twisting hair-splitter just as Oileration is. Ours is called DSF, yours NM00. Ignoring him doesn’t work, arguing with him is futile and any wagers he might accept will go unpaid. Good people of Vancouver, meet DSF(or NM00 or whatever he will be calling himself next).

          • The Voice In The Dark

            A little slow on the uptake, I see.

            I didn’t think this needed explaining, but here goes: If I had a non-socialized dog (for clarity’s sake, let’s say his name is ‘troll’) and had people over, I’d keep him in the basement with food to eat, water to drink, and space to run around in and toys to play with for exercise. I’d lock the door for his safety and that of my guests.

            So when Ruprecht asked if he can keep you, I said sure, as long as he treats you like the non-socialized little troll you are and keeps you far, far away from Canucksarmy.

            In short, please go away. And take that wet blanket with you; it’s starting to stink.

          • Origamirock

            There’s a difference between having opinions that people disagree with and doing everything you can to make everyone disagree with you. In all your time commenting here, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you make a single positive comment about any aspect of this team. Are you an actual fan of the Canucks? It’s fair to be a fan of another team and come here and tell everyone that their team sucks. Showing up to write long negative paragraphs on *every single post* that are most times barely tangentially related to the article is being a troll. Yes, we get it. You think Michael David Gillis is literally worse than Hitler. Next time, try to come up with something new and original to comment on.

          • Origamirock

            “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you make a single positive comment about any aspect of this team.”

            1. I expect the Canucks will make the playoffs next year.

            2. I like many players on the team. Dan Hamhuis, for example.

            3. I was at 4 games during the 2011 cup run including the extremely enjoyable 1st two games of the final. I am most definitely a Canuck fan whether you want to believe it or not.

            “You think Michael David Gillis is literally worse than Hitler.”


            And the use of his middle name seems superfluous.

            Thanks for playing.

          • The Voice In The Dark

            Well, that’s not how I (or, I suspect, most people) would define it, but if it works for you, that’s cool. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. You must think the Internet is crawling with trolls, given how many people you disagree with on this site (i.e. just about everyone).

          • The Voice In The Dark

            Well then we have a problem. I just got done spending 3 years changing diapers…no waaaaaay in hell I’m going back. I was sort of hoping we could all pitch in and adopt it…like a mascot…an angry, feisty, ball of fur, that lives in the trash bin, pops up bitching at anyone who will listen. Like Oscar the Grouch for the rest of the Muppets, an exercise in tolerance. NM00 is our Oscar.

  • Reg Dunlop

    There are some interesting comments in the bonus material as well…Where Lou expands on his competitiveness/motivation (“Whether I’m on the ice or playing Go Fish with my daughter, i want to win. I want to make her cry”; “There’s 20 guys in that locker room that I respect. So it wouldn’t be fair if I wasn’t in it 100%), his relationship with Gillis and Aquilini (“No hard feelings. They’re just doing their job and I’m doing mine. It isn’t personal”), and of course his future with Vancouver (“I didn’t ask for a trade in July. There obviously weren’t a lot of options. But we talked about my future with the Canucks and we’ll see where that goes”).

    Make of it what you will.

  • As an Oilers fan who generally despises the Canucks, my normally ill wishes incompassing the them are clouded this year. Luongo is quite endearing and has managed to worm his way into the book of players I enjoy from other teams. I wish him the best and hope he gets a chance to sip from Stanley at some point in his career. I just hope it’s not with the Canucks;)

    • An underhanded way of hoping the Canucks don’t win a Stanley Cup for the next 9 years 🙂

      I, too, would love to see Lou win a cup.

      Which is why I hope he gets bought out and goes to St Louis for 2014-2015.

  • The Voice In The Dark

    Breaking his silence? Where was this silence during the Boston series when he should have kept his mouth shut and didn’t. And it sounds like the fanboys are ready to fall in love with Luongo like he’s Patrick Roy or something. Give me a break. A proven choker, like the team, nothing new. Move on to something better, but no, the fans love the same old failures. you can lead a horse to water…..