LUONGO NAMED TO TEAM CANADA
There were a few surprises from Steve Yzerman and the Hockey Canada brass when they announced the 23 players that will make up Team Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics this coming February in Vancouver, but Roberto Luongo being named one of three netminders wasn’t one of them.
Luongo, who was chosen alongside New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and Pittsburgh’s Marc-André Fleury, has long been penciled into a backstopping role with the team, Wednesday’s announcement just made it official.
What is up for debate is who should start for Team Canada. There are arguments to be made for all three players, with many leaning towards Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time leader in wins and shutouts and the man between the pipes when Canada won gold at the Olympics in 2002.
Luongo wants to be the man in February, but he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to help Canada win.
“I think in a situation like this we’ve all got to put our egos aside and do whatever it takes to help our country win gold and that’s what I’m ready to do no matter what my role is going to be once February rolls around,” Luongo told TSN following the unveiling of the roster.
Luongo, 30, was part of Team Canada’s bid for gold in 2006 when he participated in his first Winter Olympics. Luongo appeared in two games and finished with a 1-1 record.
Going into the 2006 Games Luongo was a member of the Florida Panthers and although he was the starter, his schedule was nowhere near as hectic as it will be heading into the 2010 Games.
The Canucks will play 14 games on the road over six weeks leading up to the Games and following them as part of the longest road trip in NHL history. Vancouver has eight games away from GM Place before the start of the Olympics.
“I’m not worried about it,” Luongo said to TSN regarding fatigue before or after the Olympics.
“We’re all professional athletes and we all manage our bodies well and get the good amount of food and rest that we need, so it’s just a matter of making sure that once that time of year rolls around you’re really taking care of yourself and you’re not overdoing it. When it’s time to focus on hockey you focus on hockey and when you’re not, you’re taking a good amount of time to rest.”
With Luongo officially on Canada’s roster, Vancouver now has five Olympians on its roster, including Sami Salo who was named to Team Finland on Wednesday. The only player awaiting word on their Olympic status is Ryan Kesler. The Americans will reveal their roster on New Year’s Day and all signs point to Kesler being on it.
“There’s already a little bit of jabbing going around the locker room so it’s kind of fun and it’ll be kind of weird to see those guys playing against you once the Olympics start,” said Luongo of faceing off against teammates in February.
BIEKSA RETURNING TO VANCOUVER
Kevin Bieksa just can’t catch a break.
In the second period of Vancouver’s 3-2 shootout loss in Phoenix on Tuesday, Bieksa’s left leg was cut after a run in with Petr Prucha along the boards. He was injured on the play and will return to Vancouver for further evaluation.
According to Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun, Alain Vigneault said the severity of Bieksa's leg is unknown, and that an MRI was scheduled for Wednesday.
Early in the 2007-08 season Bieksa's calf was severely cut by the skate of Nashville’s Vern Fiddler. He missed 47 games that year.
SCHNEIDER CLEARS WAIVERS
Mathieu Schneider, who was placed on waivers by Vancouver on Tuesday, has cleared waivers. Before the Bieksa injury it looked as though he would be reassigned to Manitoba, now he will likely be recalled and could be with the team in St. Louis on Thursday, said Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun.
Aaron Rome will likely play if the Schneider situation is now worked out in time for puck drop on New Year’s Eve.