Roberto Luongo

Gillis confident Luongo will ‘remain a professional’


Now that Roberto Luongo has busted out of the World Series of Poker and things have quieted down on the free-agency front, it’s about time for Canucks general manager Mike Gillis to fly down to Florida and make nice with his only remaining starting goalie.

Gillis confirmed today on TEAM 1040 radio that he planned to visit Luongo “in the next little bit.” The two have only spoken on the phone since Cory Schneider was traded at the draft.

“Roberto and I have a very good relationship,” Gillis said. “We’ll be able to talk about all the issues. I’ll know more when I see him.”

When asked if there was any concern that Luongo is unhappy, Gillis tried to quell any talk of a holdout.

“I’m sure he’ll remain a professional and he’ll act in the best interests of his hockey team and himself,” he said.

Last week, Gillis told reporters that Luongo, 34, had two options heading into next season: play or don’t play.

Gillis also indicated he wants Luongo to know why the situation played out like it did, a comment that suggests the GM does indeed have a bit of a sales job to do.

“I will talk about the whole environment,” he said. “There has been so much stuff which has been misrepresented in what’s gone on here.

“I want to make sure he’s absolutely clear about us and our motivation and what was going on.

“It was a situation that got really complicated because of the lockout. I think people don’t understand the level of complexity that occurred because of the changes in the CBA with respect to these contracts.”

Related: Horvat ‘trying not to think about’ expectations in Vancouver

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?