Both mingled with the league’s elite players while leaving their mark on the event, despite this Vancouver duo coming up short on the scoreboard with their respective teams.
Luongo battled valiantly for the Western Conference making 13 saves before losing to the East in a shootout, while Raymond notched a goal and an assist but couldn’t lead the sophomores to a win over the rookies.
Good thing both Canucks had their A-game when it really mattered.
With Jordan Weaver at the controls, Luongo, Raymond and the rest of the Canucks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the final of the NHL 2K9 Hockey Hall of Fame Tournament.
Weaver, a 25-year-old Vancouverite with a flair for video games, competed against Toronto’s Chris Ryan in the Xbox 360 Live championship game prior to the skills competition during all-star weekend.
In front of a humongous TV at the Bell Centre, surrounded by a boisterous crowd, proudly donning his beloved Canucks jersey, playing under the gamer tag dopecanuckfan
, Weaver got the job done in the biggest game of his life.
“It was really cold in there, they had the doors open a lot, so I was shivering a bit from the Montreal weather,” explained Weaver, whose digits were slowed by the frosty conditions.
“I got the first goal and went up 1-0 early on, I’m pretty sure Demitra scored it, but it’s hard to remember because I was really nervous.
“Then he tied it up 1-1, before I went up 3-1 in the second period and then I played Canucks defence after that and shut him down in the third period basically.
“He was trying to drive to the net and I was using Willie Mitchell to poke check the puck away; Louie was big too, he came up huge for me.”
When the smoke cleared after the thrilling win, Weaver was presented the 2K Sports HHOF Championship Award by Columbus’ Rick Nash, who, as cover athlete for the game, provided play-by-play during the championship final.
Hearing Nash call the game was an adrenaline rush, but it was a familiar mammal that gave Weaver the jump he needed.
“Fin really pumped me up,” said Weaver, whose wife Ashley accompanied him to Montreal.
“I didn’t know he was going to be there at all, so it was a big thing. There was an Islanders mascot that came in too and even though it was before I was born, I’m still mad about 1982, so I didn’t want to see him.
“Fin was really razzing the other guy, so it was cool
Weaver will soon have his name permanently etched on the 2K Sports HHOF Championship Award, which will reside at the Hockey Hall of Fame in the exclusive NHL 2K Sports interactive area.
Move over Gretzky, Howe and Messier, Weaver’s coming to town.
“It’s a dream come true for me, I can’t even really believe it.
“It feels good because I did it with the team that I’ve supported for 20 years. I’m always playing people who pick the team that was just in the Cup finals and they’re not really fans of the team, so it’s really amazing to win with the Canucks.”
From Nintendo’s Blades of Steel and Sega Genesis’ EA Hockey, to the Playstation/Xbox revolution, Weaver has always been a hardcore gamer.
He estimated that prior to the showdown in Montreal, he’d sent roughly 200 hours “training” on the game he has since conquered. That includes the 70-some games Weaver had to win in order to qualify for the Hockey Hall of Fame tournament and the handful he won to get to the final.
What’s next for this Hall of Fame inductee? More gaming, of course, but he won’t be meddling in NFL or NBA games.
Instead he’ll continue honing his skills until NHL 2K10 is released, a version of the game that is sure to go down as Weaver’s all-time favorite.
Another prize awarded to Weaver for winning the tournament is that he will be immortalized as a player in NHL 2K10.
“They’re going to recreate my face and whole head in 3D, they took shots from all around my head.
“I still have to give them my stats, but I want to be a goalie, that’s always been my favorite position. Kirk McLean was my favorite growing up with all his amazing saves and everything.”
An all expenses paid trip to Montreal, tickets to the All-Star Game and Skills Competition, a video game showdown for the ages, a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame and being featured in NHL 2K10; Weaver has taken up permanent residence on cloud nine.
He’s jump down in a hurry if he could meet Luongo again, though.
“We were both on the red carpet and I waved at him and he came over. I told him that I had just won the tournament and that it means the Canucks are going to win the Cup.
“The whole experience was great, but the best part was getting to meet Louie.”
Here’s hoping Luongo doesn’t hold a grudge when Weaver benches the all-star netminder in favor of his own virtual character when he makes a run at defending his title next year.