Luongo: “It’s been a great six years, but it’s time to move on”

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How quickly can things change in sports?

Well, here’s what Vancouver GM Mike Gillis said less than three years ago after signing his franchise goalie to a 12-year contract extension:

“Today is a very exciting day for the Canucks organization. Roberto Luongo is the leader of our hockey team; he is in the prime of his playing career and has a tremendous desire to make the Canucks a championship team. His leadership, competitiveness and character are what this team will represent for many years to come.”

And here’s what Luongo reportedly said today on Vancouver radio:

“It’s been a great six years, but it’s time to move on.”

If there was any doubt he was on his way out, that should put a stop to it.

So far as potential trading partners, Florida seems to have emerged as the favorite to land Luongo; however, one could easily argue the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets have more pressing goaltending concerns. Whether he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to Toronto or Columbus isn’t clear though.

But was Luongo’s willingness to say “it’s time to move on” a sign a deal is imminent?

Update: Here’s the full transcript of the interview, and here’s his exact quote when asked if he could be wearing a Canucks jersey next season:

“Never say never, but I think we all know what’s going on, we’ve all seen what’s developed. At the end of the day I think it’s time to move on, and I’m OK with that. I’ve had a great six years in Vancouver and I think it’s a wonderful city. I really enjoyed my time there. Sadly I could never win a Cup there, which is probably my greatest regret, but it was a great six years.”

 

 

Related: Canucks, Cory Schneider agree to three-year deal

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.