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  • Friday, October 1, 1999

    Canucks starts season with Weekes in net, Snow hurt

    By JIM MORRIS -- Canadian Press
     VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks open the season tonight with a pair of goaltenders who have just two NHL wins between them, and neither of those victories belong to starter Kevin Weekes.
     A groin injury to veteran Garth Snow means Weekes will be in net against the New York Rangers. He'll be backed up by Manny Legace, who Vancouver snagged off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
     Even though Snow signed a $1.4-million US contract this year, with an option on next season, general manager Brian Burke has publically stated he'd like an upgrade in goaltending.
     It's been reported that the Canucks might be interested in taking former Toronto Maple Leaf Felix Potvin off the cash-strapped New York Islanders.
     Snow, 30, who looked agile and pain free during practice Friday, said as far as he's concerned, he's still Vancouver's No. 1 netminder.
     "Until I get word that I'm not, or see a pattern where I'm on the bench more than I'm playing, then I guess that would be an indication I'm not the starting goalie," said Snow, who could be ready to play Wednesday against Chicago.
     "I want to be the go-to guy, I want to be the guy that propels this team into the playoffs. Until I hear differently, that's my understanding of my role on the team."
     Weekes, 24, had an 0-8-1 record and 3.83 goals-against average after coming to Vancouver last January as part of the Pavel Bure trade. Taken 41st in the 1993 draft, Weekes was 0-5-1 in 11 games with the Panthers in 1997-98.
     He was in goal when Vancouver defeated Calgary 5-3 in Sunday's final pre-season game.
     Burke has called Weekes the Canucks' goaltender of the future and will pay him $625,000 US this season. Critics harp the Toronto native has never won an NHL game, something Weekes resents.
     "It's gotten a little tiresome," said Weekes, who put on 10 pounds of muscle this summer.
     "It's not like last year we (the Canucks) were the Dallas Stars or a top team. This is a team game. We can't do anything by ourselves. The main thing you can do is try and contribute your part and trust that everyone else will the do the same."
     The Canucks were a dismal 23-47-12 last year and missed the playoff for the third consecutive season.
     Legace, 26, has played with the Canadian national team and bounced around the minor leagues since being taken 188th overall by Hartford in the 1993 draft. He managed a 2-9-2 record and 2.60 goals against with the Los Angeles Kings last year, but has no illusions about his role with the Canucks.
     "I'm probably going to be the third guy," he said.
     "They have two good goalies here. It will be tough to crack the lineup. Hopefully I get in a couple of games and get to show what I can do."
     Burke said he'd be stupid to pass on any player who could improve the Canucks, no matter if they are a forward, centre or goaltender.
     "If I can find a better player, then (the current Canuck's) job is at risk," he said.
     Snow, who has had to prove himself to management ever since being traded to Vancouver from Philadelphia for Sean Burke in March of 1998, said he doesn't take Burke's comments personally.
     "The fact we didn't make the playoffs (last year), he's trying to push every person in this locker-room, not just me," he said.
     "I know I'm a winning goaltender. I've shown it in the playoffs, I've been to the Stanley Cup finals. I know I can contribute to this team."
     When Weekes was asked about the possibility of a goaltender change in Vancouver, he instantly assumed Snow would be the one going.
     "Hopefully, I don't want it to become a reality because I get along really well with Garth," he said.
     "He's treated me really well."

    VANCOUVER CANUCKS



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