Canucks GM denies Luongo trade request, says Kesler had “no excuses” this season
We had a feeling this would happen – Canucks GM Mike Gillis spoke to Team 1040 radio in Vancouver today and once again stated it was possible goalie Roberto Luongo could be back with the team next season.
As for coach Alain Vigneault’s widely reported comments on French-language TV that seemed to confirm Luongo wanted out of Vancouver?
“Alain also went back and corrected that, which is my understanding,” said Gillis. “I haven’t heard the interview, but he went and told whoever was conducting [the interview] that he had misspoke.”
All Gillis would say is that Luongo told the Canucks he’d accept a trade if they felt it was the best for the team.
Anyway, no surprise there. Even if trading Luongo were a fait accompli, the Canucks wouldn’t want to admit it publicly.
Perhaps more interesting were Gillis’s comments on the Ryan Kesler-related drama that unfolded this week.
To refresh your memory, it all started Wednesday when Vigneault told reporters that Kesler’s shoulder injury that required offseason surgery “was not in our mind the reason for his diminished production. That shoulder wasn’t 100 percent, but our medical staff and Ryan did a great job of maintaining the strength. The injury wasn’t the reason his production fell.”
To which Kesler’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, responded with, “I am not a doctor, I’m a lawyer, but after having conversations with the player and with the club, anyone who thinks this injury did not affect his play must have fallen off a turnip truck.”
“[Kesler] was cleared for play and he wanted to play and clearly he wasn’t as effective as he had been the year before and there’s probably a lot of reasons that went into that,” he said. “Injuries are part of it, but if you’re cleared to play and you play, there’s no excuses. You have to perform. This year, among others, he didn’t perform at the level that he expected or we expected.”
In other words, the GM and coach are on the same page.
On top of that, Gillis addressed Kesler’s – how to put this – theatrical performance in the playoffs.
“I’m not fine with it. We have had discussions about it,” he said. “Sometimes players in the heat of the moment, they don’t use their best judgment occasionally.
“Ryan understands his role. He understands the process of becoming a great player, and he accepts it. Occasionally there are some lapses, and I think that’s what happened in the first game in particular against Los Angeles in the playoffs. And we’ve addressed it and we’re moving on.”
In addition to the alleged embellishing, Gillis might also have been referring to Kesler’s decision to give Kings goalie Jonathan Quick a snow-shower early in Game 1 while the Canucks were leading, 1-0 – a decision that led to an unsportsmanlike penalty and a Los Angeles power-play goal. Questionable call or not, Kesler’s reputation likely played a role in the referee’s verdict.