– Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault told French station TVA Sports on Wednesday night that G Roberto Luongo does, in fact, want a trade out of Vancouver. Vigneault was asked whether or not he thinks Luongo should be traded.
“First of all, that is what he wants right now. What we need to do is what’s best for our organization and our team. We have to look at what’s best for our organization and Roberto.”
The Canucks are expected to match any offer for RFA G Cory Schneider, and many believe that he has finally surpassed Luongo as the team’s starting goalie. The 33-year-old lost his starting job to Schneider during the playoffs and told reporters in his exit interviews April 24 that he would waive his no-trade clause if that is what best suited the club.
“Yeah, of course, if they ask me to. I don’t want to be one of those guys who is going to stand in the way of anything. I always want to put the team ahead of me. I don’t want to be one of those selfish guys. Obviously they have a guy here who is going to be a superstar in this league for the next 10, 12, 15 years so I’m okay with it. It is a business and that’s the way it goes. I’ve loved being here the last six years. If I’m here in the future, then great. If I’m not, that’s good also.”
Vigneault also talked about the possibility of having two starting goalies on the roster during his conference call on Wednesday. In that scenario, Schneider would be given more playing time.
“What happened in the playoffs would be an indication of what might happen moving forward. If you look at (Roberto’s) stats, other than the month of October, for the six years he has been with the Vancouver Canucks, he has always been one of the best goaltenders in the league.
“On different games here and there, there might be some questions on who I should throw in and not throw in. I think Cory’s development from last year to this year, obviously he’s improved. The reason Roberto was playing so many games was because he’s a great goaltender and he deserved the starts he was getting.”
Luongo has 10 years/$47M remaining on his contract ($5.33M cap hit), but is already generating lots of interest from teams around the league–latest rumours had as many as six teams that were considered serious suitors, including the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks. Stay tuned.
– NHL legend and former Kings’ great Wayne Gretzky told ESPN that he will be in attendance for the Kings’ second-ever Stanley Cup Final appearance. The 51-year-old played eight seasons with LA from 1988 to 1996 and also coached the Coyotes from 2005 to 2009. During his time with the Kings, Gretzky helped lead the club to a deep postseason run in 1993, ultimately falling shor with a 4-1 series loss in the final to the Canadiens.
“For sure, I’ll be at Game 3 (at the Staples Center).
“The biggest thing of all is that those two teams both earned the right to get there and both had worked so hard. I just really felt it wasn’t my place to sort of steal some of the attention away from the players and the organizations that worked so hard to get there. I thought it was just best to stay on the sidelines that series.
“The Kings have been playing unreal. The Coyotes had an unreal year. Wow. I don’t know if anybody picked L.A.-Phoenix for the Western final, but they both earned the right to be there, that’s for sure.”
– The Impact have signed striker Marco Di Vaio to an 18-month contract with a pair of 1-year options, making him Montreal’s first designated player. Designated player means only a portion of his pay is applied to the team salary cap. One over the age of 23 counts as $350,000 against the club’s salary budget, unless the player joins his club in the middle of the season, as with Di Vaio, in which case his budget charge is only $175,000. The 35-year-old joins the Impact after four seasons with Bologna, where he was captain the last two years and scored 65 goals and added 18 assists in 143 games. Di Vaio will arrive in Montreal Sunday night with his wife and their two children and attend a news conference on Monday, but won’t be able to play until the transfer window officially opens June 27. The Impact are 12th in the MLS with 13 goals so far, and have 18 against.
“I am very proud to become a member of the Montreal Impact and to start this new phase of my career. I have accepted with great enthusiasm the challenge of joining an enticing championship like MLS. I am extremely eager to make the entire club proud, from the president to its supporters.”
– Juventus has signed head coach Antonio Conte to a 3-year contract through 2015. Conte, a former Juventus captain, took over last summer from Luigi Delneri, who failed to take Juventus into the Europa League with a seventh-place finish in the Italian league. The 42-year-old led Juventus to the league title this season and reached the Italian Cup final.
“It’s obviously a great day. Because my dream continues, after a year of working. Certainly it’s a great show of admiration that fills me with pride and happiness and definitely pushes me to try to definitely do better.
“In May last year, the club’s intentions were clear; it wanted to create a project, to build year on year something that would take us back to the top, like Juventus was in the past. We managed this year to win the league, next year there will be a new challenge in Europe, where we will have to try to consolidate what we have done well in Italy this year.”
– David Beckham’s England career will be honoured at the team’s final European Championship warmup match, with the former captain receiving an award from the continent’s governing body for players who have at least 100 international appearances. The 37-year-old LA Galaxy midfielder, who made the last of his 115 appearances for England in 2009, will receive a commemorative cap and medal at halftime of the June 2 exhibition against Belgium at Wembley. The award will also be presented to 1966 World Cup-winning forward Bobby Charlton, who played 106 times for England, and retired goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who made a record 125 appearances.
“Throughout my career I’ve been pretty successful. I’ve played for some pretty big teams. I’ve played for my country quite a few times and for managers without sentiment … I’m very proud of the fact and I have always found it an honour that people want to buy my shirt, that fans turn up to watch the team I am playing in or to see myself. I’ve always found that a huge honour.”
– Doug O’Neill, the trainer of this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, was suspended for 45 days Thursday for exceeding the allowable limit for total carbon dioxide in one of his horses. He will still be able to saddle his Derby and Preakness winner, I’ll Have Another, in the Belmont Stakes on June 9, when the colt has a chance to become the 12th Triple Crown champion and the first since 1978. O’Neill’s punishment will begin no sooner than July 1, and he has the option to appeal the suspension and the $15,000 fine recommended by a hearing officer and upheld by the California Horse Racing Board. Although it was a California ruling, most racing jurisdictions will honor it. It was the third time one of O’Neill’s horses had been found to have elements of an illegal performance enhancer at a California racetrack. He was also suspended and fined for a similar offense in Illinois in 2010.
The hearing officer in the latest case found that there was no evidence that in August 2010 a horse named Argenta was given a “milkshake,” a concoction of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes delivered through a tube down a horse’s nose to combat fatigue. There were no suspicious betting patterns in the race nor evidence of any intentional acts on the part of O’Neill in connection with the incident, according to the hearing officer. The test did show illegal levels of total carbon dioxide, which indicates performance-enhancing bicarbonate manipulation that can be achieved a variety of ways, including through a horse’s feed or water.