Luongo still processing situation as Canucks camp opens 0
Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo during a training camp press conference at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Sept. 11, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
There will come a day when Roberto Luongo will stop having to field questions about his desire to play for Vancouver following the gong-show goalie situation that came to a stunning conclusion this past off-season. Wednesday was not it.
The Vancouver Canucks goaltender was present when the team did roll call on the first day of training camp at Rogers Arena — as expected he would, of course. But when asked why he still hasn't exactly declared that he's thrilled to be back — after the team surprised the hockey world by trading Cory Schneider at the draft in June instead of moving their high-priced supposed-No. 2 netminder — Luongo admits he's still processing everything that unfolded.
"You guys have to understand, after what's happened over two years … I got to feel it out and see how it goes," Luongo said. "I'm not saying I'm unhappy. Right now I just want to be playing. It's tough to do a complete 180-turn on something like this.
"Who knows what the future holds, I can't predict it. Obviously the last couple years, things that have happened are things I never would have thought of. I want to live day by day and play the game."
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the 34-year-old had mentally prepared to be on another team, with trade rumours circulating for the past year and a half, and even after general manager Mike Gillis declared at season's end that it was "unlikely" Luongo would be back.
But things change. And the goalie now finds himself a Canuck for the foreseeable future and again faces the pressure from a Stanley Cup-hungry city mounted with high expectations.
Luongo didn't have any doubts that things would be normal with his teammates after the whole summer saga, and the support from fans has been overwhelming — for now, he adds. His humour is also still intact.
When asked how he felt about new coach John Tortorella not wanting his players to be on social media, the Montreal native — and the man behind @strombone1 — said, "I'm not on Twitter, I don't know what you're talking about."
For now the Canucks plan is to go full steam ahead with Luongo. Then again, the options are rather bare. With 25-year-old Eddie Lack the favourite to fill the backup role — barring the addition of a veteran goalie — there could be a chance Luongo plays another 65 or even 70 games again this season.
"I don't have a number," Luongo said. "I just want to play. I want to focus on playing and help these guys win a hockey game.
"That's what I'm looking forward to the most, just get back to working. Leave all that other stuff behind and move on."
More from training camp:
- In a way, it felt like the first day of school all over again Wednesday. Kevin Bieksa even brought a backpack to the press conference. And while the defenceman was his cheeky self early on — pushing his own microphone down the table to Ryan Kesler, who was facing all the questions at one point — he got serious when talking about past results and high expectations for this season.
"Last year was straight-up embarrassing," he said. "We have a lot to prove to ourselves and everybody else. We want to win now."
- Entering the final year of their contract, the Sedins want to remain in Vancouver. The players and their agent have met once with Canucks management to talk about an extension and are reportedly meeting again Thursday. It's now just a matter of getting it done. "Everyone knows we want to be here," Daniel Sedin said.
- John Tortorella on what his style of training camp looks like: "We're going to go about business as we always do. These first couple of days, there's going to be quite a bit of conditioning. We're going to push (the players) as far as that's concerned. I like the way we do it." The team will do on-ice testing at the University of B.C. on Thursday.
- Kesler was questioned about potentially butting heads with Tortorella. "We're already starting this, aren't we?" he said, drawing laughs. "Who knows? I'm not thinking there will be. We're a good fit, we both want to win, we both hate losing." When it comes to expectations, the centre was blunt: "All those doubters out there, we're going to make them eat their words."
- Although Zack Kassian claims to still weigh the same as last year, he looked slimmer and said he focused on improving his quickness this summer. "I need to get more consistent," Kassian said. "I come in more mature, and stronger, and better shape than last season. I'm going in with open eyes this season."
Then, a body-fat-related question from media prompted teammate Jason Garrison to jokingly tell him to take off his shirt.
Meanwhile, coach Tortorella said the winger will be given every opportunity to play with the Sedins in the pre-season, and earn his place in the top-six.
- For a while there after the season, trade rumours involving Alex Edler arose. Since the defenceman was back in Sweden at the time, he only heard most of the rumblings afterwards, and said he's just happy to still be with the club.
- Defenceman Garrison on what he thought about Tortorella: "He's a straight shooter. He's going to hold guys accountable and you're going to know where you sit every day."
- Forward David Booth (ankle) is still not cleared to play, and is listed as day-to-day.