Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Roberto Luongo talks Canucks tenure, returning to Vancouver, wanting to go on LTIR, and more
2 months ago
In less than 8 hours, the Vancouver Canucks will unveil Roberto Luongo’s addition to the Ring of Honour. Before that, the first ballot Hall of Famer met with assembled media to reflect on his time in Vancouver. Luongo spoke for 15 minutes this morning — here are the highlights from Bobby Lu’s presser.
First, Luongo talked about the emotions and things he’s reflecting on in his return to Vancouver.
“A lot of stuff, and it hasn’t just been today, it’s been leading up this past week. Looking through things, on social media people are sending me stuff, so it’s been great reminiscing through all the years that I spent here. The great memories, and the funny things that happened while I was here. I’m just really excited to be here, and I know my wife and kids are as well, so we’re looking forward to the evening.
“It was the most important stretch of my career. It was when I was in my prime, we had a great team, we were in the playoffs, we made a run to the cup, played in the olympics in this city, which is unbelievable when you think about it, that it all came together like that. It’s a huge huge part of my life, always will be.”
Luongo then reflected on how involved the core group of players from the 2011 team remain in the NHL, with the Sedins working for the Canucks, Kevin Bieksa with Sportsnet, and Alex Burrows and Manny Malhotra serving as assistant coaches.
“It’s amazing, right? It was a great special group. It’s like every locker room, but I think guys genuinely loved each other, cared for each other, teased each other all the time. I remember countless ping pong tournaments, cards on the plane, a really tight group. The fact you see them sprinkled everywhere around the league, it’s fun because then I get to see them. I get to see them when we’re in Toronto, when I’m here, or wherever. It’s nice that they stayed in touch with hockey and in the league. These are memories that we built together for all those years that live on and whenever we see each other, we always like to reminisce a little bit.”
Luongo opened up about why he started his alter-ego — originally anonymous — Twitter account, @Strombone1 while he was in Vancouver.
“I don’t know exactly how it kind of happened, but it did. It was just a way for me to be myself, maybe I was a little bit guarded when I’d talk to you guys [the media] mostly in my early years, couldn’t really for some reason be myself. That’s something I learned maybe later on in my career, how to deal with that kind of stuff. It was just an outlet for me to be myself and I think it helped me deal with a lot of these things. People took a liking to it, and then one of the guys on the team let the cat out of the bag and it kind of blew up from there.”
Later, Luongo finally cleared the air about his “decision” to retire, thus inflicting a salary cap recapture penalty on the Canucks, rather than going on LTIR, as so many players in Luongo’s situation do.
“Well it wasn’t my call, unfortunately. I would have loved to go on LTIR and make a few extra dollars,” Luongo said with a laugh. “But it wasn’t my call. At that point in my career, it was a tough year on the ice and off the ice as well. It almost had become a job just to get ready to go on the ice, and that’s what I didn’t like about it. You know, it was just so much time making sure that my body was ready to perform, and then when I did get on the ice, the performance level wasn’t as high as I would have liked it to be. So when the season ended, I wasn’t quite sure yet what I was gonna do, to be honest with you. I was still debating because I kind of had a good last couple of months in my career in that season so I was debating coming back or not and once the month off was gone, and it was time to get back in the gym, that’s when I was like ‘wow, I don’t know if I’m ready to get back in the gym.’ So it was a tough decision because everybody wanted me to play another year, all my friends family, they all thought I should stick it out for one more year but it was something telling me that it was time to hang ’em up and and that’s what I did.”
Finally, Luongo talked about his infamous “my contract sucks” quote.
“I’ll just give you a little bit of background over that. I literally, 15 minutes before I came out, found out that I wasn’t getting traded to Toronto, so I was a little bit emotional at that time. Didn’t really have time to regroup, and you know, obviously the contract didn’t suck, but for certain reasons it did. But yeah, I just remember being so emotional in that very moment just because of what had transpired 15 minutes prior that I wish I would have had a few more minutes to maybe gather myself before I went out there.”
Luongo’s Florida Panthers will take on the Canucks at Rogers Arena tonight as fans set to honour the greatest goalie in Canucks franchise history. If you’re going to the game, note that doors open at 5:30 instead of 6 PM, and you won’t want to miss the pregame ceremony, where Luongo will be giving a speech directly to Canucks fans.
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