Vancouver Canucks’ Roberto Luongo finds it nice back on ice 'with the boys'
Provided he’s not traded by Saturday night, star goalie figures to be a Canuck until after lockout ends
Goalie Roberto Luongo practises with Vancouver Canucks players during an informal skating session at UBC on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012.
Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER — So there was Roberto Luongo on Thursday, wearing a blue Vancouver Canucks practice jersey and one of his Canucks-motif goalie masks during an informal skate at UBC. It seemed like old times to Luongo, even though it didn't to anyone else.
“I felt okay, it felt natural out there,” said Bobby Lou. “It's always nice to be out there with the boys. It's been a long time since we've played and been eliminated. It was fun. I'm just going about my business like a regular season and this is what I'd be doing. There is no reason why I wouldn't be on the ice with these guys.”
Well, actually there is. Or was. Luongo has been waiting for a trade out of Vancouver for four months after losing his starting job to Cory Schneider during the playoffs. Now with the lockout nearly here — it's scheduled to begin Saturday at 9 p.m. Pacific time — general manager Mike Gillis says no trades will be made until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.
So unless something live comes down by Saturday night, Luongo will remain a Canuck for the foreseeable future. Who could have figured that?
“We still have a little bit of time here, so we're keeping our fingers crossed,” Luongo said of the CBA talks, knowing a resolution there would likely lead to a resolution for him, too. “This is what we do for a living and we want to find something that's fair for both sides. It's kind of sad. Right now, I'm still in the mode the season will start on time and if it doesn't, once I get back to Florida, I'll figure out some sort of program to stay in shape and be ready once it's over.”
Luongo was part of the 2004-05 lockout that cost the league and players an entire season. Asked to compare this September to the one in 2004, the 33-year-old netminder began to chuckle.
“You know, it's funny you ask me that because this morning I was thinking I could barely remember the last time around,” he responded. “It was only seven or eight years ago so I don't know if I'm getting old or what.”
News flash, Roberto: we're all getting old.
LOCKOUT LIMBO: Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa was in the American Hockey League during the last lockout — 39 points, 192 PIMs, you could look it up — so he admits he's heading into a great unknown.
“For me, it's unprecedented,” he said. “It's going to be a learning curve, for sure. Everybody is in limbo right now. There are a lot of guys asking other players what they're doing. I know a large number of guys are going back to Minnesota to skate there and I'm sure there will be some hot spots on the East Coast for guys to train.
“For myself and the twins and some other guys, we'll probably stick around here and kind of make this our headquarters for training. We'll try to stay together but we'll see what happens.”
Asked it he felt the lockout was pre-ordained, Bieksa was uncertain.
“I don't know,” he said. “I don't know what their agenda is. They obviously have an agenda. It seems that way. It seems with their first proposal that they were destined for a lockout and they wanted to kind of lure us into a trap and then see how we reacted. Players are still fighting and trying to make things happen. Don Fehr is steering us in the right direction and we'll just keep going day-by-day.”
While some view Sept. 15 as a deadline of sorts, training camps weren't scheduled to begin until Sept. 21. So there is still a week before anything truly falls victim to a lockout.
“Right,” said Chris Higgins. “But, I mean, I think we would have liked to have seen some movement by around this date. Hey, we're going to keep working at it to see if they have any interest in the proposals we have. It seems like they kind of just dismiss them right away almost every time. Hopefully, they'll consider what we've given them a little more seriously.”
DOING THE WAIVE: Normally a veteran player would be glum at the prospect of being waived and sent to the minors. Centre Andrew Ebbett, 29, was anything but Thursday. He was one of five players Canucks management put on waivers for the purpose of playing for the AHL's Chicago Wolves during a lockout. The others were defencemen Derek Joslin and Patrick Mullen and forwards Guillaume Desbiens and Andrew Gordon.
Ebbett is on a two-way contract that pays him $600,000 at the NHL level and $300,000 in the minors.
“In this case, the two-way ended up helping me,” he said. “If it happens I go down, I'll enjoy it and get some games in. For me, it's win-win. If there is a lockout and guys are sitting at home, it's a chance for me to get a training camp and to play and, hopefully, get back in the swing of things.”
Ebbett appeared in just 18 games with the Canucks last season due to injury and healthy scratches.
In another transaction Thursday, the Canucks signed 18-year-old defenceman Evan McEneny of the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. He's listed at 6-2 and 205 pounds and played only two games last season due to a torn ACL.
QUOTABLE: “There is a lot of posturing going on.” — L.A. Kings defenceman Willie Mitchell offers his two cents on the tone of the CBA negotiations.
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