He’s back in Vancouver.
Yes, Roberto Luongo took to the ice with his Canucks teammates on Friday and, naturally, his appearance in a uniform many thought he’d never wear again and a city many thought he’d only return to as a member of another team was cause for a massive media gathering.
Although, apparently, he didn’t really answer the question that was on a lot of people’s minds: is he happy to be back in Vancouver?
I’ve said all along I want to play,” Luongo told reporters. “Now I have that opportunity.
“I want to take advantage of that and I want to win some games. I want to go as far as we can and hopefully win the Stanley Cup. It’s a big year for me.”
He comes back to Vancouver as the undisputed starting goaltender (we revert your attention to his ProHockeyTalk piece on the Canucks’ back-up situation).
Luongo revealed to TSN’s James Duthie in an interview that was aired in August that he would be returning to the Canucks, following weeks of silence on his part and speculation from media and fans as to his future in Vancouver.
The Canucks’ ongoing goaltending saga hit its climax at the NHL Draft in June, when the organization, unable to trade Luongo and his 12-year, $64 million contract, shipped fellow netminder Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the ninth overall pick.
Schneider had been given the starting goalie duties midway through Vancouver’s first-round playoff series with the L.A. Kings back in 2012, and had retained the title when the 2013 regular season resumed following the lockout.
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.
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?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.