And he's digging life up here too.
Met up with Roberto today, joked about the surprising Vancouver snow and the driving habits of South Florida sports writers when the roads get a little slushy. He says he loves it in Vancouver, and he does have 27 million reasons why he should be happy.
But I think it's more than the money; Roberto already had a good chunk and the Panthers were going to give him more.
No, being on a winning team, helping possibly lead this team not only to a postseason berth but a divisional title and maybe something more along the way. Why not? You have to have great goaltending in the playoffs, and even though Luongo's never been to the postseason, to paraphrase JM "that ain't his fault.'' I'm betting Luongo's pretty good in the playoffs, something we never got to see here in Florida.
I like Alex Auld, Bryan Allen and Todd Bertuzzi, too. It stinks for the Panthers that Bertuzzi's been hurt all year and couldn't be that one guy to lift up a team on his back. We'll probably honestly never know if Bertuzzi could have been the guy that made this trade what Mike Keenan thought it would be and everyone else in the organization hoped it would be.
While the Panthers continue to shuffle on, Roberto Luongo is thriving. He's got a new contract, his picture on billboards around a hockey-crazed town and is king of his little corner of the universe. Not too shabby.
Luongo wouldn't go into the Florida stuff much today, he has a game tonight. I didn't expect to talk to him at all today since he didn't talk on game days last year. He was loose, happy, cracking jokes. Last year he was crabby a lot of times, the contract talk and all the losing really wearing on him. For a hockey guy, he's probably in a better place. At least in the standings, anyway.
THE NEWS: Talked to JM (they stayed to workout in Calgary before flying west this afternoon) and he's not sure whether Gary Roberts, Juraj Kolnik or Gregory Campbell will be able to go Sunday against the Luongos. Sprukts and Stewart were sent back, but only so they could play in the Americans game against the Manitoba Moose (I really want their jersey next Christmas) in Winnipeg. JM has to make a decision if he wants to call someone back because the Amerks head east for a Saturday night game in Hamilton (hometown of FSN producer Mitch Rubenstein).
JM will lead the Panthers contingent at GM Place tonight as the Canucks take on Edmonton. It will be the first time the Panthers management have been in the joint since Keenan waltzed around the arena floor on the night of the draft after the Luongo trade. The guy sure could play to an audience.
-- Thursday's loss to Calgary was one of the most depressing locker rooms I've seen in my time covering the Panthers. This team has lost some stinkers in their day, sure, but they had that one in the bag. You're up two goals with four minutes to go, you need to win that game. Alex Auld had plenty of blame for himself, but give his teammates credit. They rallied around him and blamed themselves for putting Alex in a bad spot. You like to see that.
It wasn't all fluffy the way I like it. It was slushy, almost like a Slurpee. Of course, it wasn't a Slurpee. I like those, especially they new grapesicle one.