March 6, 2008
Show some respect, Bobby Lu
By BARRY MACDONALD -- Sun Media
They were the quotes played 'round the world. Well, the hockey world at least.
Roberto Luongo went off following the Canucks' loss to Colorado last week, breaking the unwritten code with spoken words. He was frustrated, and he articulated that frustration, implicating unnamed teammates in the process.
For the media and consumers of everything Canuck, it was a meaty morsel. For his teammates, who knows?
Publicly, they said all the right things. Willie Mitchell made it very clear that he didn't take anything Luongo said personally, and he was one of the players on the ice when Joe Sakic scored the tying goal, in a game Vancouver ultimately lost in a shootout.
If there is one player who has licence to take verbal liberties, it is Luongo. Vancouver's fortunes ride with his performance night after night, game after game, and it's possible the weight of the expectations are taking a bit of a toll.
But having licence to take those liberties, and actually exercising that right are two different things. Hockey players are renowned and appreciated for their humility and solidarity "in the room." Luongo could give up 21 goals in one period, and his teammates would blame the colour of the goalposts. Win as a team, lose as a team. It's a time-honoured tradition, even if it makes for boring copy.
Which is why Luongo's rant stood out. It was a departure from the long-accepted hockey norm. Team 1040 NHL insider Ray Ferraro deemed the deviation defenceless. Ferraro said every player that was on the ice, busting their ass to clear the puck from the zone, felt terrible about their inability to get the job done. He didn't think it was necessary for a teammate to remind them, publicly at least. Great fodder for media types, not too great for guys you are in the trenches with.
Ferraro has an NHL resume. He knows what is appreciated and what isn't within "the room." I will defer to him on this one.
I will also suggest that Luongo's frustration is understandable, and while he could have chosen a different path in expressing it, Canuck fans can take solace knowing how passionate he is. He gets a pass this time around. But, if there is a next time, he needs to include himself when it comes to the criticism. Even if he doesn't think he's at fault.
Either that, or zip it with the microphones around, and save the venom for behind closed doors.
Barry Macdonald is co-host of BS in the Morning on the Team 1040 from 6-9 a.m.