[Update Jan. 17: There appears to be wide misunderstanding that Keon, mentioned below, is Luongo’s interviewer, which is not the case. Most questions are asked by different reporters from various media outlets. Keon manages the press conference but doesn’t ask any questions. Unfortunately, the NHL’s transcripts don’t identify the questioner. My apologies to those who were confused by this format.]
DAVID KEON: Good afternoon everyone. I’m David Keon of the National Hockey League’s public relations department, and I’d like to welcome you to today’s call. We have Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. Thanks to Roberto for taking the time today to answer your questions, and thanks to T.C. Carling of the Canucks public relations department for arranging the call.
Without playing any games so far this week Roberto has had an eventful couple of days. He was named first Star of the Week after last week of posting a record of 4-0-0, with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. Included among the four wins were two shootout victories where Roberto stopped five of six shots in each.
Last night Roberto was named to the starting lineup for the Western Conference All-Star Team in the National Hockey League All-Star Game which will be played January 24th in Dallas. The Canucks currently lead the Northwest Division with 49 points and a record of 24-18-1, and host Minnesota tomorrow before leaving on a four-game Eastern road trip which begins in Toronto on Saturday as part of Hockey Day in Canada. We thank Roberto joining us today.
Q. A couple of questions. One, your feelings on being voted as a starter in the All-Star Game, and is there any difference in the mind-set of a player playing in Vancouver all those years and a team that’s won seven straight games, I don’t know if you’ve won seven straight games before.
ROBERTO LUONGO: Yeah, this is definitely the first time I’ve found myself in this situation as far as winning and being in first place.
You know, it’s great. My confidence level not only for myself but the team is very high right now and you can tell just by the way people are in the locker room, it’s fun to be around the locker room and with the guys.
For the All-Star Game, it’s my first time being voted in as a starter and I think it also reflects the success of the team and how things have been going this year.
Q. What’s your thoughts on the All-Star Game?
ROBERTO LUONGO: I’ve only been to one other one when it was in Minnesota and it was my first time, so it was very exciting for me. You know, it was a great experience. I got to know a lot of the players around the league and stuff like that and it was a great feeling.
Q. Did you manage to keep goals out of the net?
ROBERTO LUONGO: Yeah, actually I think I played the third period and allowed one goal.
Q. Can you compare the difference from being a hockey-crazy market like Vancouver to the less than hockey crazy market of the Florida?
ROBERTO LUONGO: Obviously it’s a big difference. Everywhere you go, that’s all people talk about. You are recognized everywhere, so it’s great. It’s a great market. It’s great to be playing in a market like that. The fact that we are winning makes it much more fun to be part of, and you know, you just want to keep things going. Right now obviously we’re sitting in first place and every game that you play, I mean, you just want to win games and stay on top in our division.
Q. How have you adjusted off the ice? I know after the trades happened, you had mixed feelings and you were excited to go to a Canadian team, but at the same time you set down some roots in Miami and you’re building a house. How has that all sort of flushed out?
ROBERTO LUONGO: Well, the easiest part to be honest with you, since the beginning, once I got here right away I felt at home. We found a place and we got in and it’s been great. Obviously we’re having a lot of fun, but I think I’m really happy where I am right now and the situation that I’m in, so things couldn’t be better.
Q. Obviously it’s an honor to be named All-Star starter, but is there any downside as far as you’re obviously a goalie, and you’ve just had a tremendous workload in the first half, is there not a part of you that maybe wishes you could be lying on the beach for four days rather than travel to Dallas?
ROBERTO LUONGO: Well, I think I have a couple of days off anyways. Our last game is on a Friday so I have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off, and then, you know, I’ll be traveling to Dallas, which playing one period of hockey I don’t think is really going to be a huge factor. And at the same time I think it’s going to be good just to, you know, get some ice time before we get going in the second half.
Q. Is there anything specifically that you do to stay fresh? You’ve appeared in all games this season, are you in bed by 8:00 every night, or what do you do?
ROBERTO LUONGO: I just realize when is a good time to take a day off. Like for example on Monday, I just went on the ice with my coach for half an hour to get a work-out and then you know, got off the ice for practice and went to the gym. Once in awhile, little things like that obviously keep you fresh, and also, you can go and get some rest when you can. Those are the main things and you want to make sure that, you know, you get a chance to rest any time you can.
Q.Do you think in any way you benefitted at all from the Vote for Rory campaign, some fans voting for you and Rory at the same time?
ROBERTO LUONGO: Definitely, that’s a given, I think fans voted for me at the same time, so I definitely think it had an influence.
Q. I was wondering if there was anything that you look forward to and specifically about All-Star—the entire All-Star festivities, Skills Competition and the actual game itself, and second question would be what—do you place a lot of importance in the Skills Competition, is that just as a goalie and as a competitor, is that something that you want to excel in?
ROBERTO LUONGO: I think so. Any time you’re on the ice and facing shots against other players, you always want to do the best you can. And so for me, I think the whole two-day event is what is exciting for me, the whole experience. There’s not anything in particular that I love, both the Skills Competition and the game. So just a matter of getting together and just enjoying the couple of days I’ll be in Dallas.
Q.You and I have talked about this before, but I was always amazed at sort of the intensity in your answer when you answer this question. But just how much does it matter to you to finally get into the playoffs after several years in the league; how much does that matter to you?
ROBERTO LUONGO: Yeah, that’s all that matters really for me right now. I really don’t care about numbers and save percentage, how much shots I have, that’s not important to me.
I think there’s two things that I look at this year. Number one is wins and number two is, you know, what’s our spot in the standings. No matter how we get it done, as long as we get the two points at the end of the night, I’ll be happy. You just want to see your team on top. That’s the bottom line for me and nothing else matters.
Q.What’s the major difference, obviously the travel in Vancouver is certainly different than Florida, although Florida is certainly not like Philadelphia to New York, is that a major problem for you, and is that the only downside to perhaps playing the game is when the travel is a heck of a lot different?
ROBERTO LUONGO:I wouldn’t say it’s a problem. It’s definitely an adjustment. I think the major thing is pretty much changing your time zone every time you travel. We haven’t even been on any western California trips yet, so you have to change your clock every time. But as long as you stay regimented and you have your own routine, I think things go pretty smoothly. I know at the beginning of the year, it was pretty tough because we played a lot of games on the road right off the bat.
So a little bit of fatigue was settling in, but over the last couple of months, we’ve been pretty much mostly at home and a little bit on the road, so it’s been all right.