By Allan Muir
Roberto Luongo wasn’t asking anyone to feel sorry for him.
But it’s kind of hard not to, right?
Just minutes after being pulled of the ice from practice, only to learn he hadn’t been traded, the reluctant Canuck opened up about his disappointment in a painfully human post-trade deadline press conference on Wednesday.
It made for riveting theater as he grappled with his emotions about remaining with a team that won’t play him but couldn’t find anyone willing to take him off its hands.
Not that there wasn’t interest. Talks with the Maple Leafs went right to the final minute before breaking down when the Canucks reportedly refused to assume a portion of Luongo’s remaining $40 million in salary.
If a part of him had held out hope that there was a way around that massive hurdle, it was gone by the time he stepped in front of the gathered press.
“My contract sucks,” he said. “That’s what the problem is. It’s a big factor in trading me. It’s why I’m still here.
“I’d scrap it if I could right now.”
It had to be a humbling admission. That 12-year, $64 million deal he signed in September 2009 has already given him a boatload of dough and will give him boatloads more. It’s enough to buy anything but the one thing he wants most: a chance to earn it.
Luongo has been beaten fairly by Cory Schneider for Vancouver’s starting job. That stings, but he can accept it. And maybe he can handle the smackdown of the minimal return the Leafs offered for him — back-up Ben Scrivens and a pair of second-rounders.
What really hurts is that the line of suitors that were hoping to secure his services never materialized in the off-season. And that teams facing obvious needs at the deadline decided to go with younger, cheaper options.
He’s certainly not the first to feel that particular rejection in this economy. But that doesn’t make it any less humiliating.