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  • Sunday, December 19, 1999

    Islanders send Potvin to Canucks

      VANCOUVER (CP) -- The Vancouver Canucks traded their goaltender of the future for a cat on his third life Sunday night.

      The Canucks dealt goalie Kevin Weekes, sophomore right winger Bill Muckalt and third-year centre Dave Scatchard to the New York Islanders for goaltender Felix (The Cat) Potvin plus a second- and third-round pick in this year's NHL draft.

      Vancouver general manager Brian Burke said Potvin will take over as his team's starting goaltender with Garth Snow being pushed to the backup role.

      "I feel that both Weekes and Snow were given not just a good opportunity to grab the No. 1 job but a great opportunity," said Burke.

      "I don't feel either one has done it. I'm tired of starting games down 1-0 and 2-0. I put up with it for as long as I could, I think I was patient with both of them. Now I've made a move that says 'I think we need a No. 1 goaltender."'

      Burke had heralded Weekes as the goaltender of the future when he acquired him from Florida along with defenceman Ed Jovanovski, forward Dave Gagner, junior prospect Mike Brown and a first-round draft pick in February for superstar winger Pavel Bure.

      Jovanovski is the only player left in the deal playing for the Canucks.

      "Do I think Kevin Weeks will fulfil the promise that I predicted for him? Yes," said Burke.

      "Do I feel he's the answer right now. No. I don't think this team can wait. Our goal is to make the playoffs."

      The Canucks bounded out of the gate this year but are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games. They've dropped like a rock from being the third seed in the Western Conference to being tied for 10th place.

      Weekes, 24, a native of Toronto, has a 6-7-4 record this year, one shutout and a .898 save percentage.

      The deal was announced as the clock ticked down to the midnight EST roster-freeze deadline for the Christmas holiday.

      It's the second time in less than a year that Potvin has been part of a major deal.

      Last January, Potvin was sent to the Islanders by the Toronto Maple Leafs after waiting for 178 days for a trade after the Leafs signed free agent Curtis Joseph. In that trade, Toronto got defenceman Bryan Berard and a switch of sixth-round draft choices.

      "It was something I guess that was coming since training camp," Potvin said in Uniondale, N.Y., after the Islanders defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-3 with Potvin on the bench as a late scratch.

      "It's going to make it tougher because it was so close to Christmas."

      Potvin, a native of Anjou, Que., became expendable in New York with the emergence of Roberto Luongo, who was called up from the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL. Burke said he had been trying to pry Luongo out of New York for the last year.

      Potvin was 5-14-3 with a 3.21 goals-against average this year, while Luongo -- drafted fourth overall in the 1997 draft -- was 1-3-1 with a 2.17 GAA before getting the win in Sunday's game.

      "We wish nothing but the best for Felix," said Islanders GM Mike Milbury. "He is a first-class goaltender and person."

      Burke said Potvin has the skills to lead Vancouver to the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

      "In Felix Potvin we have acquired a goaltender who I think is one of the better goaltenders in the NHL," he said.

      "I think his play has suffered as a result of the situation he's been placed. We are confident he can return to his form as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL."

      Muckalt, 25, a native of Surrey, B.C., was a rookie of the year candidate for the much of last season when he had 16 goals and 20 assists. He's struggled this year, collecting just four goals and eight assists in 33 games.

      Scatchard, 23, from Hinton, Alta., had just four assists in 21 games this season. He had 13 goals and 13 assists last year.
    VANCOUVER CANUCKS NEW YORK ISLANDERS



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