« As good as (Roberto) Luongo is on a nightly basis, he’s even better when his motivation is more personal than professional .»

As Roberto Luongo faces his former team the Florida Panthers tonight, take a look at where the two franchises have gone since the deal.

The Canucks are coming off a record regular season in which they won a round in the playoffs, and have found a franchise goaltender to build a team around.


Luongo has established himself as the front-runner for this year’s Vezina trophy and has the Canucks in position to get into the post-season dance once again.

Things haven’t gone quite so well in Florida, where the Panthers are just a game over .500 since pulling the trigger on that blockbuster trade.

Only defenceman Bryan Allen remains on the roster, as the Panthers cast Alex Auld adrift and dealt Todd Bertuzzi for slick-skating prospect Shawn Matthias and a second-round draft pick, which they in turn traded away.

If that doesn’t paint a clear enough picture of which team won the deal, chances are you’ll see more evidence tonight.

While the Panthers are billing it the “Super All-Star Match Up” between new puck-stopper Tomas Vokoun and Luongo, this one’s all about the latter. As good as Luongo is on a nightly basis, he’s even better when his motivation is more personal than professional, and here’s betting he shuts the door on his old team in his first trip back to the BankAtlantic Center.

• All is well in the Lions’ den if yesterday’s media roundtable was any indication.

Jarious Jackson’s contract is all but done, meaning the Leos will once again be deep at quarterback. The return of play-calling whiz Jacques Chapdelaine and the recently retired Mark Washington have bolstered the coaching staff.

But things are even better off the field. Season’s ticket renewals are ahead of last year’s lofty pace, corporate sponsorship has increased significantly and merchandise sales are through the roof compared to where they were five years ago.

It may be hard to believe given how beleaguered this franchise was when Bob Ackles took over in 2002, but the Lions have arguably become the CFL’s model franchise.

• Here’s my Super Bowl prediction for what it’s worth: Though the Giants have caught lightning in a bottle ever since meeting the Patriots in the final game of the regular season, the two week break hurts New York far more than New England.

Momentum is like a drug addiction for a team as schizophrenic as the Giants, and I don’t see them regaining it against the first 18-0 team in NFL history. Combine that with the amazing versatility of the Patriots’ offence and a Bill Belichick defence, and I’m picking the Pats to win Super Bowl XLII by double digits.

Want to weigh in? E-mail me at scott.rintoul@metronews.ca.


Mix equal parts college athlete, sports fan and broadcaster. Shake vigorously. Serve chilled Monday-Friday on the TEAM 1040 from 6-9 a.m. or online at thetoulbox.blogspot.com

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