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Press Round-Up: FEB.19.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Forsberg unlikely to return
Pierre LeBrun said Peter Forsberg will not play in the NHL this season:


It appears Peter Forsberg will not be making a return to the NHL this season after all.

"The prospect of Peter having enough confidence about the foot/skate issue to play for the rest of the NHL season does not look good at this time," Forsberg's agent Don Baizley said in a statement Monday.

"As a result the teams have been advised that it is unlikely he will return to the NHL this season."

The 34-year-old Forsberg is an unrestricted free agent. Philadelphia, Colorado, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Minnesota were among the NHL clubs who were believed to be interested with the Flyers largely seen as the favourite to re-acquire him.

The former NHL MVP hasn't played this season because of lingering foot and ankle injuries. He skated in Sweden over the last two weeks trying to get ready for a return but still felt some discomfort.

Forsberg had to sign with a team by the Feb. 26 trade deadline to be eligible to play in the playoffs.
THE PROVINCE
Vancouver good when healthy: But does this banged-up group have the talent to get job done?

Ben Kuzma said if the Canucks can get healthy in time they have enough to be good and put a solid run together:

Willie Mitchell has been moved twice at the trade deadline, and as a potential future captain of the Vancouver Canucks, he feels moved to comment on what the right chemistry can do for any club.

With his eyes on the standings and transactions, Mitchell is no different than his Canuck peers. He hopes general manager Dave Nonis can strengthen his club before the Feb. 26 trade deadline without sacrificing a promising young core.

"It's our job to just go out and play, but who is kidding who?" said Mitchell. "It's no secret that you need a good mix of veteran players and young guys to be successful. And that's smart."

Still, if Nonis can't find the right trade fit, Mitchell is confident the Canucks can find the swagger that carried them to a 32-8-6 post-Christmas run last season, a division title and a second-round Stanley Cup playoff appearance.

"Absolutely," said Mitchell. "We felt last year there was enough here to get the job done. If [only] we just had more healthy bodies because we were pretty banged up.

"We've just got to get there [playoffs] first. The trade deadline is a deadline. It comes and goes every year and the more you go through it, the more you know you've just got to worry about what's going on in this dressing room.”

"It doesn't matter if you're the first or eighth seed. It's a clean slate come playoffs and that's on our minds right now."

Getting to the playoffs will be tough if Lukas Krajicek (shoulder) and Aaron Miller (foot) can't contribute and if Kevin Bieksa (lacerated calf) and Brendan Morrison (wrist surgery) are slow to hit stride.

The Canucks are coming off their most gritty effort of the season when Edmonton challenged their physical resolve Saturday. The 4-2 win spoke of winning a key divisional game and winning the war of wits and heavy hits.

"We have to follow it up to mean anything," captain Markus Naslund said of previewing tonight's battle in Minnesota. "We all know what we have to do -- especially against Minnesota. We've beaten them in there and it wasn't a fluke. We finished checks and took pucks to the net."

Naslund had a hat trick in a 4-2 win at Minnesota on Nov. 21, but the Canucks are 0-2-1 in their last three meetings with the division leaders. Which raises the question as to whether the Canucks can consistently put in the effort they showed Saturday, or whether they need some help now.

If the Canucks believe in each other, who knows what the stretch drive will produce? They can dazzle one night and be duds the next because their talent base doesn't match that of elite clubs. But they do have goalie Roberto Luongo and a work ethic.

"We've got a good team here," said coach Alain Vigneault. "A team that works hard and competes -- almost 90 to 95 per cent of the time, which is demanding. I work with what we have and I don't worry about what we don't have and who is not healthy."
THE PROVINCE
Goalie police in flap over pad flaps: Star finds himself on thin ice for equipment


Jason Botchford said Roberto Luongo was forced to cut off pad-flaps:

The NHL has changed its tune with regard to Roberto Luongo's pads, singling out the Canucks' star netminder by asking him to chop off his controversial flaps even though other goalies in the league still wear them.

Just two months after Marty Turco and Mike Smith created the so-called "pad flap," the NHL seems to have reversed its opinion. In response to Turco's mock protest in December, Kay Whitmore, one of the NHL "goalie police," said there was nothing wrong with Luongo's knee flaps, two pieces of equipment that jet out from his leg pads.

Before the Feb. 5 game in Dallas, Luongo was asked by Whitmore to cut them off and he did.

"It wasn't because they were illegal, it was just because," said an obviously miffed Luongo. "There's a bunch of other goalies who still have the same thing. But that's fine. I have more important things to worry about, you know what I mean. I'm the only one that I've seen that has had to do this. You should ask Whitmore why."

It's unclear why there seems to be a different set of rules for Luongo. In a game Sunday against Calgary, J.S. Giguere was wearing the same flaps Luongo was told to shed. Ironically, the Stars' Smith has started wearing them and so has Blackhawks goalie Patrick Lalime.

Whitmore was in meetings all day Monday and wasn't available to comment. He sent The Province this text message: "There's not much to clarify. Anything that extends outside the 11-inch pad width is not allowed. If [flaps] are worn properly they're fine."

In December he said he wouldn't ask Luongo to cut the flaps back or tie them down. He also deemed them OK back in April.

"It's just the way Roberto chooses to wear it," Whitmore said in December. "If we thought he was getting an unfair advantage having that protective flap sticking out the side then we would definitely do something about it. ... It hasn't been something that's really worried us."

Something changed. It's believed the NHL was getting heat on what many believed to be a non-issue, so Luongo was asked to cut them as a courtesy to defuse the situation. Luongo's flaps did stick out more than any other goalies' and that may be because he's bowlegged. The flaps became an issue before the playoffs against the Stars when Dallas officially complained.

"There's always a group that wants to look at something. Roberto's pads are worn by several other goaltenders in the league and his body composition is different," said a displeased Canucks GM Dave Nonis.

It's his understanding Luongo could go back to the old flaps, even though that's impossible now he's cut them off.

"Those pads were approved at the start of the year," Nonis said. "If [cutting them off] does [bother him] it's my understanding that he can wear them however he likes."
THE CANADIAN PRESS
NHL GMs break out groups to discuss rule changes, CBA issues
Pierre LeBrun breaks down the issues that are being discussed at the General Manager meeting this week:

One-minute penalties for overtime during the regular season?

That was one of the many issues discussed Monday as the NHL's 30 GMs broke out into four different groups to tackle a number of subjects.

Other notable issues discussed at the GM’s meeting included: •Carry-over suspensions from prior seasons.

•High-sticking penalties and whether it should remain an automatic four-minute penalty for drawing blood.

•The instigator rule.

•Retaining salary in trades which would allow teams to pay part of a player's salary in trades, which would likely facilitate deals, especially earlier in the season.

•The NHL Players' Association's idea of an 84-game schedule.

•The idea that players who are traded near the trade deadline cannot re-join his old team for a minimum of one year.

•Whether hand passes should be disallowed in the defensive zone.

•Whether breaking a stick on a player should be an automatic slashing penalty.

•Ice conditions around the league.

•The size of goalie equipment.

•Bigger nets

•The shootout and whether to go to a five shooters instead of three and whether a player that was still in the penalty box at the end of overtime should be ineligible for the shootout.
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