Luongo's lacklustre post-season play linked to workload?

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:44 PM ET

Mike Gillis wants to put an end to talk that he and coach Alain Vigneault are at odds over how many games Roberto Luongo should play this NHL season.

“There’s absolutely no controversy whatsoever between Alain (Vigneault) and I,” Vancouver Canucks GM Gillis told the Calgary Sun Saturday.

They both would like to see Cory Schneider play in roughly 20 games to keep Luongo fresh heading into the playoffs. That said, they both understand that when it comes to goalies, the best-laid plans could be hijacked by any number of complications.

“We want him to be the strongest player on our team as we head into the playoffs,” said Gillis, whose former captain has played more games than almost any other goaltender over the last decade, prompting many to believe his post-season woes have to do with burnout.

As far as the club’s typically slow start, a rash of blueline injuries and issues revolving around Rick Rypien’s fan tangle and Luongo’s inability to win a road game so far, he says he wouldn’t know what “normal” would be like in a city that always seems to have controversy swirling around the Canucks.

Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering which NHL club will be the first to join the Wiserhood by shelving a guy for ‘ocular trauma.’

Around the horn

GM Scott Howson and the Columbus Blue Jackets were not at all surprised to see the record-low 9,800 fans in the stands for a game earlier this week. He said the team lost 2,400 season-ticket holders this summer, which he attributes to the team’s poor performance over the last

10 years, the economy and the fact it’s early in the season. He expects similar crowds in early-week games but figures things will get better eventually as his team plays a more exciting, up-tempo game under current head coach Scott Arniel than it did under ex-bench boss Ken Hitchcock. “It’s a concern, but when you win, you attract people,” said Howson, whose team didn’t help itself when it laid an egg in front of a capacity crown for the home-opener. “We’ve turned the page because Scott plays a more up-tempo, puck possession-type game that’s easier to watch.” ... The slow start and defensive issues of the Anaheim Ducks have many suggesting Randy Carlyle’s time as coach will — or should — soon come to an end. Ducks GM Bob Murray denied it Saturday, telling the Sun, “There is no truth to those whispers.” Heading into last nights action, no team had allowed more goals against than the Ducks … Despite talk to the contrary, top-draft pick Taylor Hall will not be going back to junior before the 10-game mark. Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini confirmed Hall and the other two young hot-shots — Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi — will stay with the club through thick and thin all year long. Even though he had yet to score heading into last night’s action, Hall was by far the best player on the ice in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. “Not too many kids at that age can take over a couple periods like he did,” Tambellini said “He needs to play against pro players.

I don’t think we’ve thought any differently in that regard since he got into training camp.”

Parting gifts

How foolish of the Ottawa Senators’ to publicly announce they’re going to makes trades to shake up their struggling club. The declaration ensures they’re dealing from a position of weakness as teams know they’re desperate to make a deal. It backs the club into a corner, forcing GM Senators Bryan Murray to make some sort of deal to prove his threats weren’t hollow. Players don’t get scared by such tactics — in fact, some probably want out of Ottawa anyway. Actions speak louder than words, so make a deal and just don’t broadcast your intentions beforehand ... For what it’s worth, the Calgary Flames have no interest in following the Oilers as the NHL’s 24th team to use cheerleaders in the stands. Nor will the Flames review security around its benches like Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson says his club will in the wake of the Rypien incident with a fan and his subsequent six-game suspension. “We want our fans close to players and players close to fans, so to even further cut off fans from players is not something we’re looking to do,” said Flames president Ken King. “You have to be careful not to knee-jerk every time something happens. We think reasonableness is the approach, and that’s the approach we’ll take.” The Oilers have no concern as visiting players exit from the Zamboni entrance. And the Canucks are content with their setup, which has two security guards behind each bench.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis


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