Tony Gallagher was the centre of a bit of controversy this week when he dropped the “diva” bomb on Roberto Luongo. His article titled “Gallagher: Time for Luongo to cut the diva routine” caused more than a little bit of anger towards Gallagher, who I’m sure is used to it by now.
It should be noted that newspaper columnists do not write their own headlines and it’s the headline that is causing most of the fury I suspect. It certainly was an effective way to sell newspapers.
Personally, I think the word “diva” is a little bit too strong for this situation, but Tony Gallagher is mostly right for the rest of his article. The vast majority of the article is dedicated to recapping what has happened during this saga and pointing out that Luongo is not without blame. That’s very much in line with what I said in my article a few days earlier: Don’t cry for Roberto Luongo. I never thought of using the word “diva”, I guess I’ve got a lot to learn about selling blog posts.
While the “diva” bomb caused most of the fury, there’s also a bit of head in the sand syndrome among a few Canucks fans. Luongo wasn’t as unfairly treated as some say and he isn’t blameless in not getting traded out of Vancouver.
Obviously Mike Gillis botched the situation and he should (and has) received blame for it. But so did Luongo.
I have already said my piece on Luongo (I encourage you to read my opinion on him, much of it positive). Instead, lets dive into some of what Tony Gallagher had to say.
To summarize, after earning and signing a deal which would pay him a monstrous amount of money — certainly more than any other team was willing to assume — Luongo played well, but not so well that a friend and rival didn’t come along and seemingly play better behind the same team. Attempts to move him were thwarted because the team showed him too much respect at first, then when the CBA landscape changes fully hit, couldn’t move him at all. So they traded the guy they could move and somehow this completely surprised Luongo?
Obviously this surprised Luongo (it surprised everyone), but when you look at the facts it really was the only option. The Canucks owners were not willing to buy out Luongo’s contract and nobody in the league wanted his contract. I assumed that someone would eventually take him for something but I was wrong. People need to also remember that Luongo was outplayed by an exceptional goalie and that’s why he had to sit on the bench more than he liked. It wasn’t a personal attack on his character and sitting in favour of a better player is what we should expect in professional sports.
Fair enough, it was tough and very unusual. But couldn’t he have rolled with the punches a little better? Couldn’t he imagine he’d been traded — to Vancouver? After all, with Alain the goaltender roaster gone, there will be a whole new direction to this team, and some new, young faces.
If Alain “the goaltender roaster” Vigneault was still the team’s head coach, I could understand Luongo’s discontent a little more. Most of the times that Luongo would have felt mistreated would have been at the hands of Alain Vigneault. If you assume that Mike Gillis lets his coaches coach (Keith Ballard is exhibit A), then it is AV that sat him on the bench at times during the last 3 playoff seasons. It is the goaltender roaster who let him well, roast, in blowout games instead of giving him the mercy pull.
To his credit, even Luongo might finally be realizing that no matter how badly he might be feeling, this diva routine is getting a little embarrassing. As badly as the Canucks management misplayed this affair — and let’s be clear, they wholly miscalculated the goalie market — his response since June has not been as professional as his worshippers would have you believe.
Canucks management did not handle the situation perfectly, but they didn’t do it out of malice to Luongo. Luongo asked to be traded after Cory Schneider took over the #1 job fair and square. Luongo was universally applauded by everyone (including yours truly) for his professionalism during last year’s goaltending controversy. He isn’t going Pavel Bure on everyone now (sitting out while under contract), but don’t kid yourself: he doesn’t want to be here. Not speaking for nearly two months just built up the drama and actually seemed to make this story bigger.
Can you handle the truth? The truth is Roberto Luongo does not want to be a Vancouver Canuck. I don’t think being a Canuck is the worst place in the world for him and I was hoping that he would be fired up to prove people wrong.. in blue and green.