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Roberto Luongo says he'd quit NHL if larger nets were ever introduced @NHLdotcom

Roberto Luongo says he'd quit the NHL if the league introduced larger nets.

There is no plan to do so but there was a lot of talk about it a couple of years ago during symposiums open to any ideas to enhance offence in the league.

Taller nets, wider nets, curved posts - some of the suggestions were wild.

Luongo, the star goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks, says he'd have no desire to play if nets were larger than the current size of six feet by four feet. During a conference call Tuesday, he was asked how he'd react if bigger nets were mandated.

"If that day comes, I don't think you'd see me in the NHL," he replied.

He'd rather retire, he added.

Luongo appeared in a franchise-record 76 games and posted a 47-22-6 record with a 2.29 goals-against average and five shutouts last season. He was second in the league in victories, falling one short of the NHL record posted by Martin Brodeur. Luongo was so good that he finished second to Sidney Crosby in MVP voting.

He helped the Canucks, who hadn't qualified for the playoffs the season before his arrival, take first place in the tough Northwest Division. They knocked off Dallas in a first-round playoff series that went the seven-game max and were eliminated in five games by eventual champion Anaheim.

Luongo sees good things happening again this season.

"I see us starting a step ahead of last year," he said. "We've made a few key acquisitions up front as far as depth goes with a couple of guys who can put the puck in the net."

He's well aware that expectations of the fans rise with success.

"We want to take it to the next level," Luongo said. "We were proud of what we accomplished last season.

"Not a lot of people put us (atop the division in pre-season predictions). There's a lot of hard work to be done. We're in a tough division, but we have the character and talent to do it again."

As for himself, getting into playoff games for the first time since 2000 with the New York Islanders' farm team in Lowell, Mass., was a thrill.

"The excitement you have when you're in the playoffs, it gets you more revved up to have a good year and make sure you're part of it again," he said.

It is hard to imagine that he could top last season's heroic performances, but he'll give it a try. The heavy workload he carries might wear him down later in his career but, at age 28, he's just approaching his prime.

"You have to listen to your body," he said. "Sometimes you feel like you need a rest, a day off, and you have to listen to your body."

Oh, "Eat well and get some good sleep," he added.

He stuck to a rigid conditioning program throughout the summer.

"The workouts have got more intense the last few years so I can be in the best possible shape when training camp rolls around," he said.

His return to a hockey-mad Canadian market from south Florida has been a boon to Luongo's career. There was added pressure but he handled it with ease. He loves the game-to-game challenges.

"It went pretty easy," he said of the change of scenery. "It wasn't a big adjustment at all.

"Hockey-wise, the main thing is to learn about the shooters in the West, guys I didn't get to see too often."

Luongo was asked for the umpteenth time to explain why he was late rejoining his teammates for the first overtime period of the team's last playoff game last May. Backup Dany Sabourin handled the first 3:34 when Luongo wasn't available. Sabourin made five saves before there was a stoppage in action and Luongo returned to the crease. The Ducks won 2-1 with a goal at 4:30 of the second overtime.

"It's already out there what happened," Luongo said. "I was a little bit sick so I couldn't come out for the start of overtime.

"It was a pretty intense game. It happened and, thank God, they didn't score on us (while he was missing in action) or else it would have been devastating for me."

It's water under the bridge now.

A new season is about to begin and he's looking ahead. Looking way ahead, he'd look great on Canada's Olympic team in 2010 stopping Russian, American and Czech pucks in his home NHL rink. That would be something.

But leave those nets alone.

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