Is Luongo’s newer, friendlier persona for real?

 (Matt Boulton/Wikimedia Commons)

Roberto Luongo has become much more laid back in the past year. (Matt Boulton/Wikimedia Commons)

By: Chris Messina

@cmessina85

We know that Roberto Luongo not being traded has provided us bloggers with tons of material to write about. Until the Canucks figure out their goaltending situation this will be a hot topic, there is no arguing that. However, we can argue why Luongo has decided to recreate his image off the ice.

On Thursday night after Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy’s one-on-one interview with Luongo aired, Nick Kypreos –an analyst of the network – called Luongo’s new image off the ice a ‘sales job.’ Boy did that cause a stir, but it raised a valid question. Is this true?

Kypreos’ stated that he believed Luongo is doing it because the way he was perceived in the past might make an owner think twice about picking up the remaining nine-and-a-half years that are left on his current contract in which will pay him almost $41 million beyond this season. He also went on to say other teams might be worried about getting a goalie that is worried about the public’s perception of him by referring to Luongo’s comments during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals when the Canucks were facing the Boston Bruins he complained that the media wasn’t pumping his tires the way they were for his counterpart Tim Thomas.

Kypreos, a former Capital, Whaler, Ranger and Maple Leaf, wrote a column to defend himself afterwards along with the video of the segment when he called the Canuck out, but regardless if Kypereos meant to say what he said or not the thought might have some merit.

This year Luongo has been active on twitter (@strombone1 if you want to follow him) which has let a completely different side of his personality come through. He’s mocked his own trade situation among other things and is rivalling Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0) for the league’s top account (even though Bizz Nasty leads by almost 300,000 followers, he has been just as fun to follow for many fans).

Twitter isn’t the only way that he has gone about changing his image. There are numerous times that the cameras find him on the bench joking around with teammates the nights he’s not playing and he’s become much more personable in interviews. The Province even went as far as to say that he is “The Most Entertaining Athlete in Hockey,” after he appeared on Hockey Night in Canada’s After Hours with Scott Oake and Craig Simpson.

It’s just hard to fathom that this is the same goalie that we knew through the first 12 years of his career. That other guy was boring to listen to and came across as being moody and boring. This has  many asking why the change?

The more it’s thought about the more it seems that what Kypreos is saying is true. He would have been nearly impossible to deal – he still might be – if he had kept the persona that he had become known for over the course of his career. At the end of last season instead of taking the approach that he was going to work hard in the off-season –which he might have- to win back the Canucks number one job he told reporters that maybe it was time he moved on and then reportedly told Vancouver the same in his exit meeting after the team was knocked out of the playoffs.

Maybe this is all getting overblown because regardless of his personality nobody is going to commit to making him their goalie for the next decade without him proving he is still capable of stopping the puck like he did in 2010 when he won a gold medal at the Olympics or in 2011 when he got to within one win of being a Stanley Cup champion.

Let’s not forget the team acquiring Luongo – if he ends up being the goalie they trade – isn’t just taking salary off the Canucks hands. Vancouver’s GM Mike Gillis has made it clear that he is asking for a couple of good assets back as well. It’s not just about a team making a big financial commitment to Luongo, but they will also be giving up a couple good pieces in the process.

It’s not likely that any team would do that if they didn’t get a good player off the ice as well.

To this point he’s played well in net and seems to be a new person, but we’ll see how this all plays out and whether this new image is enough to convince another team to trade for him. For now though Kypreos might be right about the act.

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