VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks have cut ties with Air Canada and signed on with a new airline for their charter travel.
When the Canucks departed the South Terminal at Vancouver International Airport on Thursday afternoon, it was on a plane operated by Kelowna-based Flair Air.
The Canucks made the change after only recently learning that Air Canada had reconfigured most of its Jetz charter fleet during the lockout and only one of the planes would have first-class seating throughout the cabin.
Flair Air operates three Boeing 737-400 aircraft. The aircraft that took the Canucks to Los Angeles on Thursday has a 76-seat VIP (business class) configuration.
Earlier this week, Canuck assistant general manager Laurence Gilman indicated the team was exploring its options with regards to its contract with Air Canada.
"It is a private agreement that our company has executed with Air Canada," Gilman said. "We are in discussion with them about how they will fulfill their obligations to us. At the same time we are exploring our options. That's really all I want to say about it."
Air Canada has refused to comment on the matter. It had charter contracts with all seven Canadian NHL teams, as well a few U.S.-based NHL teams and the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
Air Canada does remain a corporate partner of the Canucks.
MAX MISSING: Centre Maxim Lapierre missed Thursday's practice with what coach Alain Vigneault said was a minor groin issue.
"He tweaked his groin a little bit during the game," Vigneault said Thursday "He'll skate tomorrow morning and they think he'll be fine for tomorrow night."
The Canucks begin a three-game California road trip Friday night in Anaheim in what will be the home-opener for the Ducks.
Vigneault said Cory Schneider will start in Anaheim. With back-to-back games Sunday night in San Jose and Monday in Los Angeles, it is likely that Roberto Luongo will start one of those final two games.
SO LONG SIMON: Alex Burrows is a huge CFL fan and knows how many B.C. Lions fans are feeling about the trade that sent wide receiver Geroy Simon to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"I feel bad for the B.C. Lions fans, that's for sure," Burrows said. "I still remember when (former Montreal Alouette) Ben Cahoun left and he only retired. So now that he is going to Saskatchewan it is a big loss. It's tough because he has been so good for many years."
Burrows, meanwhile, seems to be settling into his new role of second-line centre. After losing his first two faceoffs in Wednesday night's 3-2 shootout win over Calgary. Burrows won his final five draws.
"Well, I got some help from my wingers," Burrows said. "I think Jannik (Hansen) won one for me when it was 50-50. It's just about timing and making sure I get in there and battle and be strong. As long as I keep working on it I think I will be all right."
DUCK CALL: The Ducks head into Friday night's game with a 2-0 record. After beating the Canucks 7-3 in Saturday night's opener for both teams, Anaheim went into Calgary and beat the Flames 5-4.
"I saw a team that jumped on the other team's mistake and made them pay," Vigneault said of the Ducks. "Obviously, we need to do a good job against their skill players. Their skill players can find the back of the net, we need to be on top of that and we'll be ready for tomorrow night. "
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