OK, it's only for a brief trip to Las Vegas, where he will be participating in the World Series of Poker this week. But if there were any doubts that the trade rumors swirling around the Canucks netminder were going to come to fruition, Luongo did a pretty good job erasing them on Friday.
Luongo spoke for the first time since the end of the season, which concluded for the Canucks in the opening round of the playoffs when top-seeded Vancouver was ousted in just five games by Los Angeles. Luongo's season ended earlier than that, with Cory Schneider replacing him for the final three games of the series.
Schneider isn't going to be leaving the Canucks crease any time soon after signing a three-year, $12 million deal on June 28. Despite being just two years into a 12-year, $64 million deal of his own, Luongo understands the situation and sounded very much like a man prepared to play elsewhere next season in an interview from Vegas with The Jeff O'Neil Show on Vancouver's CFOX radio station.
"I would never say never, you never know, but I think we all know what's going on and we've all seen what's developed," Luongo said when asked if it was still possible he could stay with the Canucks. "At the end of the day I think it's time to move on, and I'm OK with that. I had a great six years in Vancouver. I think it's a wonderful city. I really enjoyed my time there. Unfortunately I was not able to bring a Stanley Cup there, which is probably my biggest regret. But it will be remembered for six good years."
That's a different take from what Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis was saying just three days earlier. In an interview with Team 1014 radio in Vancouver on Tuesday, Gillis was asked if a Luongo trade was inevitable.
"Maybe, maybe not," said Gillis, who has consistently refused to rule out keeping both goalies despite the awkwardness of the situation. "We have a lot invested in Roberto, and it may or may not come to pass."
The massive 12-year deal the Canucks invested in Luongo is the biggest impediment to a deal. That contract also included a no-trade clause, so Luongo has control over where he will go even if Gillis can find a taker for that cap hit. Luongo appears to understand the limitations his contract puts on any potential deals, but still believes a trade can be made. He also confirmed that his former club in Florida is still his preferred destination.
"My contract's set," Luongo said. "It is what it is and maybe that's a bit of a handicap for me right now as far as … how many teams are really in my services. There are a few teams on there that I would be willing to look at, but obviously Florida is my home in the offseason and it makes sense for family reasons. At the end of the day it's for hockey also. There's not many years left in my career even though I have a long contract, and I want to be focused on having a chance to do something."
Luongo denied demanding a trade, but also stated he would not invoke his no-trade clause to block any deal in order to remain with the Canucks.
"It is within my rights, but I think it's really time to move on," Luongo said. "I don't think it was either one of us that really, neither I demanded a trade or Mike suggested that I leave, but I think it was just more of a mutual understanding that it was time for me to go and for Cory to take over."
While Schneider's emergence has led to Luongo's likely trade, the veteran netminder had nothing but praise for his former understudy.
"Cory, we've all seen what he's done in Vancouver the last couple years," Luongo said. "He's a tremendous talent and I think that the main thing that I like about him is he's got a great head on his shoulders and he's the type of guy who's going to be able to handle the job and handle the pressure of that market. He's going to be a star in this league. There's no doubt about that, and I'm sure he'll win a few Vezinas."
Luongo, meanwhile, appears resigned to the fact that he'll soon be chasing hardware on another team.