Luongo holding trade cards close to his chest (with video)
Canuck goalie won't comment on reports he may be Toronto-bound
NHL superstar Roberto Luongo competes in the World Series of Poker circuit event at the River Rock Casino in Richmond on Saturday,October 27, 2012 .
Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, Vancouver Sun
The cards had not yet been dealt, but Roberto Luongo already had his poker face on when it came to answering questions about Toronto possibly being his next hockey home.
Luongo was made available for interviews Saturday morning at the River Rock Casino in Richmond to garner publicity for his participation this weekend in two World Series of Poker circuit events.
But as he sat at one of the green felt poker tables that filled the River Rock Show Theatre, Luongo didn't have much interest in talking about whether he could soon be wearing Maple Leafs' blue.
"I don't want to speculate on anything because there are a lot of rumours," Luongo said.
Eastern media reports in recent days have suggested a Luongo-to-Toronto trade is all but done.
But Luongo said until something happens -- and nothing will until the NHL lockout ends -- he considers himself a Vancouver Canuck.
"Obviously, when the time comes and I do have to make a decision we'll make one with the best interests for myself, the team and all that kind of stuff," he said. "But for now I think my focus is just on being ready to play no matter where that is."
Luongo, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, said he has not spoken with Canuck general manager Mike Gillis for quite some time and has not given him a specific list of teams he'd be willing to go to.
"Mike never asked me for a specific list, so I have never given him a list of five teams or anything like that." he said. "We did speak over the summer about certain teams, but that was nothing concrete."
Luongo has 10 years remaining on his contract, which carries an annual salary cap hit of $5.33 million.
His preference is to return to the Florida Panthers. He makes his off-season home in south Florida, but indicated Saturday he'll consider all his options.
"At this point in time, I think we all know what the situation is with me, but there are many teams out there that I'll consider for sure."
The lockout has all NHL players wondering when they'll next play hockey. But Luongo also has the added element of wondering where he'll play. With the emergence of Cory Schneider, who signed a three-year, $12-million deal with the Canucks this summer, Luongo knows it is highly unlikely he'll return to Vancouver.
"It has been a bit of up and down in the summer. You hear stuff like everybody else does and you wonder what is going on exactly. I try to not pay too much attention until I get it from the source itself, either from my agent or Mike and haven't been in contact with him too much over the summer and obviously during the lockout I haven't spoken to him at all.
"We're just going to wait and see. I'm getting ready as if I am coming back here for training camp when it's over and if things change we'll take care of that when it comes."
Luongo said he still maintains a residence in Vancouver.
"It's still here, we still have it. It's not on the market. I just want to put it out there, it's not on the market."
Like so many of his peers, Luongo doesn't quite seem to know what to make of the lockout.
"I think we're all a bit shocked we're here right now at this point of what is supposed to be the season and we're not playing. If you look at the big picture we don't think we're too far off so there is some sort of hope. At the same time we want to get something done."
In addition to more Dad time than he is accustomed to this time of year, Luongo has been working out regularly in south Florida.
"I have been skating three to four times a week, sometimes with the Panther guys and sometimes on my own with a few shooters where I can work on some drills," he said. "I have been trying to mix it up and not always do the same thing and get monotonous. Unfortunately, it does get monotonous because you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel."
He and Panthers goalie Jose Theodore skated together during one session and Luongo said that wasn't as awkward as you might think.
"I wasn't sure how that was going to go, but it was fine," he said. "We chatted. We knew each from before so it was not as awkward as I thought it might be."
Luongo was coy when he was asked to verify that he operates a highly entertaining Twitter feed called @Strombone1.
"I have no idea what you are talking about," he said. "I have heard about it. Pretty funny guy."
Luongo, who has an endorsement deal with the B.C. Lottery Corp.'s Playnow.com website, is in town to play in two World Series of Poker Texas Hold 'Em tournaments at the River Rock.
An avid poker player, Luongo cashed at this past summer's WSOP Main Event tourney in Las Vegas. He wasn't sure how big a target he'd have on his back at this weekend's tournaments. Some players may want those "I knocked Luongo out of the tourney" bragging rights.
"That is what I am trying to figure out, if guys are going to give me more respect because they know who I am or they're just going to try and take me out. I'm just going to try and use that to my advantage once I figure that out. I guess I will have to feel it out at the beginning and see how it goes."
It didn't go so well. Luongo was knocked out of Saturday's tournament and did not cash. But as of early Sunday night, Luongo was still alive in his second tourney.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun