NHL notebook

Vigneault: Luongo wants to be traded

ROBERTO LUONGO Replaced by Schneider ROBERTO LUONGO Replaced by Schneider
Associated Press / May 25, 2012
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Canucks coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that goalie Roberto Luongo wants out of Vancouver.

Speaking Thursday by telephone on the Montreal-based French language television show “Le Match,’’ Vigneault was asked if Luongo, who was replaced by Marblehead’s Cory Schneider during the Canucks’ loss to the Kings in the first round of the playoffs, needed a fresh start.

“First of all, that is what he wants right now,’’ said the coach, who recently signed a two-year contract extension. “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 for Roberto.’’

According to the Vancouver Sun, the 33-year-old Luongo said after his exit interviews April 24 that he would waive his no-trade clause if it was good for the team.

“Of course, if they ask me to,’’ Luongo said at the time. “I don’t want to be one of those guys who stands 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 [Schneider] who is going to be a superstar in this league for the next 10, 12, 15 years, so I’m OK with it. It is a business and that’s the way it goes. I’ve loved being here the last six years.’’

Luongo still has 10 years and approximately $47 million left on a $64 million deal he signed in 2009.

Must-win for Rangers

On the eve of the Rangers’ must-win Game 6 against the Devils in New Jersey in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals, Mark Messier guaranteed his team would force a deciding contest back at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers not only won, Messier backed up his boast with a hat trick.

Friday night, the teams once more head to a Game 6, in New Jersey, with the Rangers - again the East’s top team - down, 3-2, needing a win to stay alive.

That’s where the similarity ends.

The Devils have shown repeatedly in this best-of-seven series they are just as good as their longtime, cross-river rivals. Their series lead is well deserved, having outplayed New York in all but a few periods.

The only game the Rangers dominated was Game 5, and the Devils won, 5-3, to take the lead in the series based on a strong start and a stronger finish.

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is the only player remaining from the memorable 1994 series. Now 40, he was the difference on Wednesday night in New York.

“I don’t see anything that is similar,’’ Brodeur said Thursday in a conference call. “I know if you guys look at it, it looks the same. But it’s different teams and a different way of playing the game. That’s 18 years ago. That’s a long time. I know I’m feeling a lot different. I’m feeling a lot more appreciative of what’s going on.

“Before, the Rangers were a good team when they beat us. We were not supposed to compete with them at all in ’94. They made these trades and they had all these big guys at the end, and they pulled it off in a dramatic way.’’

Messier’s three goals forced a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, where Rangers forward Stephane Matteau beat Brodeur with a wraparound in double overtime to give New York a 2-1 win. Brodeur was just a rookie at the time.

“But this time around, we feel we can play with them,’’ said Brodeur, who led the Devils to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 1995, some 13 months after Matteau’s tally. “It makes me feel a lot more comfortable going into these games coming up.’’

Rangers coach John Tortorella downplayed the comparison, saying his players were not even thinking about it.

“Not to disrespect what happened,’’ he said, “but that has nothing to do with how we’re preparing, I guess, is the best way to put it.’’

The Devils are in position to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2003 and a meeting with the Los Angeles Kings, starting next week.

“I don’t think we’re looking at two chances,’’ said New Jersey forward Dainius Zubrus. “We want to do it [Friday]. We’re definitely not hoping to win, we want to win. We don’t want to go back to their building.’’

The Rangers know what it is like to face a must-win game. They had to win the final two against Ottawa in the opening round, including Game 6 on the road. They also had a Game 7 against Washington in the second round.

“It’s a do or die, almost like a Game 7,’’ said Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko. “We have been there many times, and I feel like we know what we need to do and we will do it.’’

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