Four years is a Luongo time

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

If he's chosen to backstop Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Roberto Luongo could walk to work.

The 27-year-old Montreal-born goaltender signed a four-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks yesterday, less than a week after the June 23 blockbuster trade that saw his 2006 Olympic teammate Todd Bertuzzi go to the Florida Panthers.

"I had a number of people call me immediately, (asking) do you want to flip this guy?" said Canucks' general manager Dave Nonis. "My answer was no."

Nonis made Luongo the league's top-paid netminder and richest Canuck in club history with a package worth $27 million.

"I'm going to a great hockey team in a great hockey city," Luongo said. "We're going to make a run for the Stanley Cup."

Luongo, drafted fourth overall by New York Islanders in 1997, was 35-30-9 last season with Florida. He set NHL records in 2003-2004 for saves (2,303) and shots against (2,475) and was a finalist for the Vezina and Lester B. Pearson trophies.

Meanwhile, free agency season begins Saturday. Canucks' defenseman Ed Jovanovski and forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Anson Carter are on the market.

Rumours persist that Jovanovski wants to sign with Florida, where his family maintains an offseason home. Nonis said any deals have to make sense financially under the league's US$44 million salary cap for 2006-2007.

The 2006 free agent market includes stars like Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Michael Peca, Mark Recchi, Fernando Pisani, Rob Blake and Brendan Shanahan.


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