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September 4, 2009

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Luongo inks deal to stay in Vancouver

GOALTENDER Roberto Luongo chose to finish his career in Vancouver because he believes the Canucks can win a Stanley Cup. The 12-year, US$64-million contract extension he signed on Wednesday may help.
Luongo's new contract comes with an annual salary cap hit of just US$5.33 million, which is down from the US$6.75 million average of his current four-year, US$27 million deal that expires at the end of the upcoming NHL season.
"I want to win the Stanley Cup," Luongo said on a conference call. "That's why I play. We had to do something that made sense for both me and the team, and I think that's what we accomplished by doing a deal where the money is a bit more front-loaded."
Luongo's deal includes a no-trade clause, keeping the 30-year-old Canucks captain in Vancouver until the 2021-22 season.
Team leader
The new deal pays Luongo US$10 million in 2010-11, but just US$1 million in each of the final two seasons to give the Canucks more flexibility under the NHL salary cap.
"For me it was more about my love for the game," Luongo said. "I just want to play as long as I can. I don't see what's wrong with that."
He also plans to play for Canada at next year's Vancouver Winter Olympics.
"Roberto Luongo is the leader of our hockey team; he is in the prime of his playing career and has a tremendous desire to make the Canucks a championship team," general manager Mike Gillis said in a statement. "His leadership, competitiveness and character are what this team will represent for many years to come."
Last year, Luongo became the first NHL goalie in 60 years to be selected a team captain.
Meanwhile, Ottawa Senators defenseman Jason Smith retired on Wednesday after playing in more than 1,000 NHL games.
Smith, 35, scored only 41 goals during his career, but made his presence felt in other ways.
"Whether we ever got anything out of him offensively or not didn't matter," Senators general manager Brian Murray said. "What I liked about Jason was his leadership and the grit he provided around the net."
He played in 1,008 career games with New Jersey, Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia and Ottawa.


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