Quote disguised as a warning

GUTS MCTAVISH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

A freshly coiffed Roberto Luongo, surrounded by a horde of media, gave his own version of the state of the union address Monday at 8-Rinks.

With the departure of Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Trevor Linden, Luongo made it known he will take on a bigger leadership role in the locker room. From everything we hear he's not the quiet leader Canuck fans have been accustomed to during the past decade.

He also mentioned that he is on the same page as GM Mike Gillis who flew down to Florida this off-season to assure his golden goose that the team is committed to winning now. "Any time you've got somebody [Gillis] who wants to win now and not rebuild for the future, that's the type of direction I want to be a part of."

Remember that last sentence, Canuck fans, like it's the west coasts version of the Alamo. There is no doubt the quote "Win now and not rebuild for the future" will come home to roost if the Canucks don't, well, win now.

It's on record and it's now up to Gillis to pick through the half dozen or so cap-strapped teams to deliver top-six calibre scoring. And here I thought that's what July 1 was for.

It's fairly obvious that plan A was signing Mats Sundin. Plan B now looks like Gillis is willing to promote within. That means rookies Grabner, Hansen and even Hodgson all will be given a shot at making the squad which could include a top-six offensive spot. That's all well and good but lets hope the player who wins that opportunity is given ample time to develop properly.

In the past two seasons it's taken acts of God to get top Canuck prospects some serious ice time. Philadelphia Flyers' boss Bobby Clarke offered a then-restricted Ryan Kesler $1.9 million a season forcing the Canucks to match which in return forced them to give him a long look at his increased salary. Then with all the injuries on the blue line, Alex Edler was forced into duty and got veteran ice time and responded by playing as well as any of the core blue liners.

Of course, going with the youth movement smacks of the beginning of a rebuilding team which flies in the face of Gillis' promise to Luongo of "win now". Stay tuned. We might just find out if Gillis can have your cake and actually eat it too.


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