Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo made his first public comments about his situation with the team in an interview with James Duthie of TSN. It was shown in two parts on "Sportscentre" on Friday night.
Here is a transcript of the interview:
JD: Roberto, what has the last year been like for you?
RL: Ha, where do I begin?
JD: The most pressing question is, are you going to show up at Canucks camp motivated to be the starting goaltender for that team?
RL: Yeah, no doubt; I mean, I have a contract. I plan to honor it. I think there's a lot at stake for me this year, you know. First and foremost, I want to re-establish myself as one of the top goalies in the League.
JD: When you say you're going to honor your contract, that doesn't sound like a guy who's really happy with the situation.
RL: Things have happened over the last little while, that, you know, I had come to the conclusion that, you know, I had moved on, moved on from Vancouver and I was ready to start a fresh, new chapter of my career somewhere else.
JD: Did it feel like a divorce, that you were already divorced from the Canucks?
RL: Well I use that analogy all the time. That's what it felt like and I accepted it and I was fine with it and I had moved on personally. I mean, the only problem is, she didn't, and she wanted me back (laughs).
JD: Let's go back to draft day, June 30, Gary Bettman steps to the podium ... How did you find out about the trade?
RL: Francesco Aquilini, the owner of the team, called me in the morning and asked, he was in Florida and asked if he could come visit me. So I was like, 'Yeah, no problem.' I thought he just wanted to talk to me about, you know, my future and stuff like that. So ... he showed up about three or four picks into the draft, so he sits on my couch and he asks me to turn the TV off. So I was like, 'OK,' because I was watching the draft. So I turned it off and we started talking and all of a sudden he tells me that Schneids (Cory Schneider) has been traded. So as he's telling me this my phone starts blowing up at the same time; it was like perfect timing. So I was kind of floored, to be honest with you. I mean out of all the situations that I envisioned that could possibly be happening to me, that wasn't one of them.
JD: So what did you say to him?
RL: Uh, I don't remember, I was, it was just kind of blacked out after that, I don't remember ...
JD: Were you angry, were you upset?
RL: Uh, I don't, I wasn't angry, I was just shocked mostly. I was just trying to figure out the reasons (shrugs). Why a decision like that would be made, especially without consulting me. I mean, that's a pretty big move, I thought, to make without having an input from the guy you're going to put your trust in.
JD: How was it in the minutes and hours after that coming to grips with the fact that it was Schneids that was gone and you were back to being the starting goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks?
RL: Uh, well, I'm still working on that part, so ...
JD: You're still not quite there yet?
RL: Well, I'm there, I mean, I'm ready to go. I've been training hard and turned the corner, and I think I've made a lot of good steps ...
JD: It almost sounds like you're talking like you're in rehab. 'I've made some progress, I'm getting there, but?'
RL: I might need some.
JD: When this all first started 14 months ago, I know that Florida, playing in Florida, was your preference. Your wife Gina, her family, are from here. This is where we're doing this interview right now. Did you turn down a trade to Toronto or somewhere else in those early days?
RL: I never turned down a trade. What happened was, a couple, I think it was one or two days before last year's draft, Mike (general manager Mike Gillis) just told me that there was two or three teams that were interested. And all I said -- he said 'interested,' he never said, 'I have a trade for this team or this team' -- and all I said to Mike was, 'Mike, if you can, if you could try to do something with either Florida or Tampa, I would appreciate that. And if it doesn't work out, then we'll move on.' So I think that was the gist of it. I never turned down a trade.
JD: No actual trade was brought to you?
RL: There was never a trade on the table that I turned down. And that was the, the real story. Unfortunately, there's been a million other stories told since then, and sometimes you don't want to get involved in all that kind of stuff. But, just to set the record straight, I think that's what really happened.
JD: Draft day was not the first time you thought you might be traded shortly. Take us back to trade-deadline day ...
RL: Ten minutes before the deadline was over, I get yanked off the ice, and they were telling me to hurry up and I needed to get to Mike's office. So I rush over there, and as I'm entering the office, they hand me the paper to sign the waiver. So I was like, 'Oh.' So it became real at that point, that this was probably it, and as soon as I sat down in Mike's office, he walked in and just told me that the deal fell through and there was no trade.
JD: Did you get emotional?
RL: Yeah, I did. I mean, I think not because I was angry or whatnot, but I just think of, you know, the range of emotion in leading up to that day and in those last hour or two and thinking that you were traded one second and all of a sudden realizing that you're not. I think it just got to me for a second there and I might have cried in front of another man (laughs).
JD: When you met with the media after, you said three very telling words: "My contract [stinks]." There were certainly some who said, 'How can a guy who makes that kind of money stand up there and say my contract [stinks]?' Do you regret it at all?
RL: I don't regret it. I meant what I said. I kind of still feel that way. I'm very grateful for the life I have doing something that I love, and getting paid well to do it. There's no doubt about that.
JD: Did you look into actually voiding your contract at the end of the season, when trade talks were going nowhere? Did you contemplate that and look into it?
RL: I explored every possibility, and that was definitely one of them. At that point, there's different logistics into something like that and it's very complicated. But definitely, it was something that I was looking at and ready to do if the opportunity came up.
JD: So you were ready to walk away from $35 million?
RL: Yeah, I was ready to walk away from it and sign somewhere else for lesser term and less money.
JD: So now what? Do you still want to be traded?
RL: I don't have a crystal ball, I don't know what's going to happen down the road, but wherever I am, I'm going to be 100 percent committed to that place. So right now I'm in Vancouver and I'm 100 percent committed to that.