Will Roberto Luongo still be the captain of the Canucks this season?

robertoluongo2.jpgLots of fans thought it was a curious decision last year when the Vancouver Canucks elected to make goaltender Roberto Luongo the captain. After all, the league doesn’t exactly enjoy this, even to the point where they won’t allow goalies to wear the captain’s “C” on their jerseys. After the Canucks bowed out in their second straight playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks, a series that saw Luongo still play poorly against Chicago, questions were raised as to whether or not Luongo was distracted by being the team captain.

Now, it appears those questions are being addressed and Luongo might not be the team captain next season. Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail does some digging to find out who might be the next captain in Vancouver.

Canucks general manager Mike Gillis denied an Internet report Tuesday that claimed goaltender Roberto Luongo had been stripped of the C and that centre Henrik Sedin, the NHL’s most valuable player, would take over as captain. Gillis said he had yet to meet with Luongo about the matter, but expects an audience in Vancouver next month, when the goaltender arrives prior to training camp.

After losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for a second consecutive season last spring, Luongo said he would review his captaincy, particularly its media demands.

Gillis said the organization wanted Luongo to determine whether the captaincy had become a distraction. He added that the team made lots of changes this summer, and wanted to give the goaltender ample opportunity to digest a revamped roster.

“I don’t think it is [a distraction], but it comes with certain expectations that may be, at times, a distraction,” Gillis said. “It can be challenging answering similar questions over and over again.”

Being a team captain doesn’t just mean being the guy on the ice that gets to talk to the referees, it also means being the focus of the team off the ice and in the locker room during post-game interview scrums. Luongo, while making for a great quote after the game, doesn’t always come off as the most complimentary guy of his teammates, defensemen in particular. Switching off to a guy like Henrik Sedin makes sense in the big picture sort of way, especially after winning the league MVP award.

If the Canucks are going to make a change, however, don’t be shocked if centerman Ryan Kesler turned out to be the guy. Kesler is a guy that plays with a tough edge and plays leading by example on the ice. During the Olympics, Kesler was a force on the ice for Team USA. Bringing that sort of tenacity to the captain’s position could do the seemingly heartless Canucks (judging by the playoffs the last two years) a boost they sorely need.

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    Modano, Ciccarelli, Roenick and Savard highlight Minnesota-Chicago alumni rosters

    Mike Modano
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    There’ll be no shortage of star power on display on Feb. 20, when alumni from the Wild, Blackhawks and North Stars do battle at TCF Bank Stadium.

    On Tuesday, the NHL unveiled the rosters for the Stadium Series outdoor game — one day prior to the tilt between Chicago and Minnesota, a slew of ex-NHLers will compete for bragging rights, including Mike Modano, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Denis Savard, to name a few.

    The full rosters:

    North Stars/Wild

    Fred Barrett, Don Beaupre, Brian Bellows, Brad Bombardir, Neal Broten, Andrew Brunette, Jack Carlson, Jon Casey, Dino Ciccarelli, Curt Giles, Craig Hartsburg, Darby Hendrickson, Antti Laaksonen, Reed Larson, Dennis Maruk, Brad Maxwell, Giles Meloche, Mike Modano, Richard Park, Steve Payne, Willi Plett, Gordie Roberts, Brian Rolston, Bobby Smith, Wes Walz, Tom Younghans.


    Adrian Aucoin, Murray Bannerman, Chris Chelios, Dave Christian, Denis Cyr, Eric Daze, Reggie Kerr, Steve Konroyd, Jerry Korab, Cliff Koroll, Dave Mackey, Peter Marsh, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O’Callahan, Jeremy Roenick, Phil Russell, Denis Savard, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Jimmy Waite.

    The North Stars/Wild will be coached by Lou Nanne, Mike Ramsey and Tom Reid. Tony Esposito and Pat Foley will man the Blackhawks bench.

    Veteran NHLer Moss signs in Swiss league

    David Moss
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    Another journeyman has been forced to find work overseas.

    David Moss, who had four goals as 12 points in 60 games for Arizona last season, has signed with EHC Biel of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Tuesday.

    Moss, 33, is a veteran of over 500 games, split between the Coyotes and Calgary Flames. He nearly landed in Switzerland last season, reportedly agreeing to a deal before utilizing his one-week out clause to catch on in Arizona.

    After playing out his one-year, $800K deal, Moss failed to land a contract in free agency and eventually signed a PTO with Milwaukee, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators.


    Chara isn’t satisfied with Bruins’ recent success

    Zdeno Chara
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    The Boston Bruins didn’t get off to a great start in October or November, but in both instances, they were able to turn things around in the back half of the month.

    Right now, everything seems to be going right for Boston, but if you think they’re satisfied with their current five-game winning streak, guess again.

    “We did some things well, and we did some things that we need to improve, keep working on and keep getting better,” captain Zdeno Chara told CSN New England. “ It’s nice to win games, and it’s nice to be getting points. But I think we also want to improve our play systems-wise, and be better in certain areas.”

    A big reason for their success comes from their improvement on special teams, specifically on the penalty kill.

    Boston still has the 27th ranked penalty killing unit in the league, but they’ve killed 15 of their opposition’s last 16 power plays during their recent winning streak.

    They’re power play is clicking at a mind-boggling 32.5 percent, which is tops in the NHL this season.

    The Bruins will get their first crack at former GM Peter Chiarelli’s new team when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

    Does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    John Tortorella

    Interesting note from the Dispatch this morning regarding Monday’s Blue Jackets practice, in which head coach John Tortorella put his players through some rigorous skating drills.

    Especially interesting, given what Scott Hartnell had to say.

    “You can tell by the way we practiced today that [Tortorella] wants us in better shape so we’re not fading at the end of games,” he explained.

    Fitness, or lack thereof, has been a recurring issue in Columbus this season.

    In late October, Tortorella called out All-Star center Ryan Johansen for being out of shape — coincidentally, Johansen was “singled out” for extra skating on Monday — and, in a recent conversation with NHL.com, Torts again brought up the team’s conditioning problems.

    “I think it’s a team with a number of different mental and physical bad habits that we’re trying to turn into good habits to where it becomes an instinct, but we’re a ways away,” he explained. “These are mental habits that have nothing to do with X’s and O’s.

    “It’s a pretty young team, and quite honestly it’s about what it is to be a pro and doing the little things.”

    So, does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    It’s hard to say.

    Back in October, GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Dispatch all players passed their training camp conditioning tests and, when asked, said “I don’t think anybody can say we’re out of shape.”

    But it stands to reason one of Kekalainen’s objectives in making the coaching change from Todd Richards to Tortorella was to light a fire under the team, and get them back to playing “Blue Jackets hockey” — the hard-working, hustle-filled style with a decided lunch bucket approach.

    And in order to play that brand of hockey, the team has to be in shape.