Vancouver’s all-star netminder, who was recently named the Western Conference’s starting goalie in the NHL’s all-star game, revealed Wednesday that he will be missing the event to return home to be with his pregnant wife Gina.
“I struggled with this decision, “ said Luongo. “But I think family right now is more important to me and this is a good opportunity for me to spend some time with my wife and the baby. “
Luongo received a whopping 263, 221 all-star votes, the most of any goaltender, as the fans picked him as the West’s starter in net for the second year in a row. But minor complications have arisen with Gina’s pregnancy and the future dad wants to be there for his wife.
“As a professional athlete I respect all-star games and stuff like that and I enjoy going to them so it’s not something that pleased me, but at the same time my wife is in Florida, she’s been there all year except for a few weeks in November, and it’s a good chance for me to spend some quality time with her, something I haven’t done all year.
“It hasn’t been an easy situation to be apart like that and that’s why I came to this decision. “
Luongo is thankful that the league was so cooperative with his situation and he’s hoping the fans won’t hold it against him.
“The league was very understanding. I appreciate the fact that they understood my situation and they respected that; obviously I look forward to playing in many more all-star games and hopefully this won’t affect any future all-star games. “
Coach Alain Vigneault also supported Luongo’s decision, which will also cause him to miss Vancouver’s home game against the Dallas Stars on January 29, because being with Gina, who is due in early April, is a priority.
“As much as he wanted to go to the all-star game and felt that that was part of his responsibility, he’s got a bigger responsibility, he’s going to be a father, “ said Vigneault. “He hasn’t seen his wife in quite some time now. He’s going to go home, that’s his number one priority and it should be. “
Luongo will fly to Florida following Vancouver’s game against the St. Louis Blues on January 23, and will stay there until the Canucks travel to Tampa Bay to play the Lighting on the 31st. Having Luongo fly back and forth doesn’t make sense logistically and Vigneault admitted he anticipated this happening.
“Originally in the summer when we got together and looked at the schedule, we were already thinking that Roberto was probably going to be in the all-star game again, “ said Vigneault. “With the travelling and the number of games that he was going to play, we were already looking at a possibility of after the all-star game in Atlanta, instead of coming here, going to Florida and waiting for us there. “
Vancouver goaltending consultant Ian Clark will meet up with Luongo in Florida to help him work out before playing the Lightning.