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John Tortorella says Roberto Luongo working hard, just wants to play

By Brian Stubits | Hockey writer

Luongo is back to being the clear No. 1 guy in Vancouver. (USATSI)
Luongo is back to being the clear No. 1 guy in Vancouver. (USATSI)

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For more than a year the situation around Roberto Luongo in Vancouver has been unsettled to say the least. From wanting to be traded to being nearly impossible to trade and then Cory Schneider being traded instead, Luongo's state of mind about the whole thing has been in question. Reports suggested after the trade that he still wasn't happy and Canucks representatives flew to Florida to talk with Luongo.

Since then things have been very quiet, Luongo has stayed away from the interviews and there has been little talk about Luongo's mindset at this point.

Adding another layer to the onion, even if a thin, outer shell layer, was the hiring of John Tortorella to be the new coach in Vancouver. In a recent interview with Brad Zeimer of the Vancouver Sun, he said he spoke to Luongo and shed a little light on the goalie's thinking at this stage.

I don't want to get into specifics, but I have talked to Roberto four times. In fact, I just talked to him yesterday. I'll tell you, from talking with him he has told me he is working very hard as far as conditioning and getting ready for this season. He knows there is a lot of talk and probably a lot of questions coming his way with how it all unfolded here. I think he's prepared for that and the bottom line is he told me "I just want to play." I think that is the most important thing, if there is some conflict or you are unhappy about certain things, the bottom line is and he understands it, is that he is playing for his teammates. Those are the most important people. I have done a lot of talking to people who have coached him and know him and there is just tremendous support for what kind of pro he is. You don't have to be happy about a lot of different things. You can be really happy about this, unhappy about that, as long as you are ready to play. I think he gets that. So I am really excited about where he is mentally.

I don't think there was ever much doubt that Luongo wouldn't come around and be happy to move forward with the Canucks, it was just going to take a little bit of time. Like the whole summer. Luongo has been accused of some things in the past but not being a good teammate isn't one of them (except when he left his teammates hanging in a playoff game when nature called). He and the Canucks will be fine with this going forward, it was a tough situation all around.

As for the rest of the team, Torts is interested in seeing young players step up and try to take away some of the veterans' jobs. That and another vow to try to be better with the media in Vancouver. It's a worthwhile interview in the summer time.

 
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