Earning Athlete Respect

by Cono Spitale

Rodney Dangerfield should have yelled, from comedy heaven: “no respect!” to all the hockey fans of Vancouver after the locals 3-1 win this week against Calgary Flames.

The highlight of the game wasn’t the Canucks’ win against the weaker team but goalie Roberto Luongo’s arrogant snub of his fans after the game. Luongo had a great game in stopping 43 shots but losing his shutout in the last 11 seconds. He was named first star and as is the custom for decades in NHL Canadian cities, the stars do a little ceremonial skate and wave to the fans in the rink (and at home).

Well Luongo declines to come out, explaining to the fans (through a local reporter)…” I was a little disappointed that went in (the puck) there at the end…I don’t know if it’s a big deal or not” ie. recognizing the fans after being named the first star.

On a local radio show the next day, a fan phones in and dismisses Luongo’s fan snub saying somthing about him “focussing on the playoffs.” Here Ike, slap me on the other side! But this time with feeling!”

Canuck coach Alain Vigneault could have taken the fans’ side and chastized Luongo for the poutish/selfish snub but took the coach-friendly route and defended his $10 million a year goalie. “I’m assuming people come to the game to watch the game not the guys going out for the stars after….I mean, i know it’s part of the responsibility but i can sort of understand what he was going through.”

What was that Alain! Watching the stars skate out after is popular, that’s why is it done now and has been since forever in Canadian hockey cities (as Alain knows from growing up in Montreal and watching the Habs at the old Forum).

So what can the fans do? As old Rodney used to plead, wake up and demand some respect. Tell the media and thus the team coaches and players, they won’t stand for arrogant, selfish, over-paid athlete. Stop buying his jerseys, for example. The dad, mom, should be telling their kids: “That was wrong kids. He isn’t respecting you and the rest of the fans behaving like this. Let’s get Kesler’s jersey…he respects the fans.”

Fans going to tonight’s Canucks’ game against the Red Wings should bring a thin tie, wrap it around their necks and give Luongo/Vigneault the “no respect” routine…”I went to a Canucks’ game last night, paid $100 for a ticket and someone said “everyone hates Luongo”…I say: “that’s ridiculous, everyone hasn’t met him.”

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