Aug 13, 2013, 4:11 PM EDT
Since coming to Vancouver in 2006, Roberto Luongo has been called the greatest goalie in Canucks history…as well as a colossal choker. He’s been called glib and arrogant…as well as hilarious and humble. One moment, fans can’t wait until he’s finally traded out of town; the next, they’re panicking he won’t show up to training camp.
Suffice to say, Luongo’s relationship with Vancouver hockey fans has been a complicated one — probably the most complicated the city has ever enjoyed/endured with an athlete. And after Cory Schneider was traded to New Jersey at the draft, that relationship will continue, for better or worse.
Luongo still hasn’t spoken publicly since the trade that left him “shocked.” What he has done is change agents, hiring Pat Brisson and JP Barry of CAA Sports and firing Gilles Lupien — who subsequently accused the Canucks of treating his client “like a piece of paper, a fourth-line player.”
Whether Luongo also feels that way isn’t clear. Again, he hasn’t spoken publicly. But happy or sad, there’s no questioning his importance to the team. Just like old times, Luongo is the undisputed number one again, with Vancouver’s backup expected to be either Eddie Lack or Joacim Eriksson, neither of whom have played a single NHL game.
Which, in a cynical sense, is part of the reason Canucks fans seem to be rallying around the 34-year-old: they know they need him again.
But that’s only part of it. For many, Luongo has become a sympathetic figure — a bit of an oddity considering not many sympathetic figures have a $64 million contract. But money isn’t everything, right? Most fans are evolved enough to accept a player can be rich and frustrated at the same time. Sure, there’s something to be said for keeping a proper perspective. But there’s also something to be said for wanting more from life than money.
There’s no doubt the self-effacing tweets have helped Luongo’s reputation, too. Remember, there was a time not long ago when Luongo was the moody, spoiled, typically entitled pro athlete and Tim Thomas was the guy you’d want to go grab a beer with. These days, Luongo is offering up spots to fans to participate in his fantasy football league and joking about getting his tires stolen.
How this all plays out, nobody can say for sure. The Luongo soap opera in Vancouver has been anything but predictable. At this point, everything from a fairy-tale ending to a compliance buyout is on the table.
More Canucks day on PHT:
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 10
- Pens’ Rutherford to columnist: ‘You’re a (expletive) jerk’ 40
- Ducks silence Winnipeg’s whiteout crowd with OT win, push Jets to brink of elimination 31
- Video: Wild chase the Blues away to take series lead 45
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead 101
- Video: Jets fans celebrate return of playoff hockey with whiteout in Winnipeg 6
- Would McLellan like to coach McDavid? ‘You can have the best player and still not have the best team’ 23
- Burrows’ instigator suspension rescinded, allowed to play Game 4 24
- No hearing scheduled for Hamhuis after Bennett headshot 13
- Sharks and McLellan have ‘mutually agreed’ to part ways 50
- Of course they did: Oilers win 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, will select first overall (174)
- Stone suffered microfracture on Subban slash, Sens confirm (102)
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (100)
- Report: Kings’ Stoll arrested for cocaine, MDMA possession (Updated) (99)
- Eichel understands Murray’s disappointment, but ‘extreme competitor’ has ‘a lot to offer’ (95)