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02:21, Jul 26 2016
SUNRISE, Fla. Carson Tinker Jaguars Jersey . -- When Roberto Luongo learned he wouldnt be starting the Heritage Classic, the disappointed goaltender asked agent Pat Brisson to call Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis just to get a read on his future. When Gillis gave Brisson permission to seek out a potential trade partner for the goalie and his massive contract, the attention turned quickly to the Panthers -- and not just because Luongo calls South Florida home. "It had to be a hockey move," Brisson said. "Roberto wants to play, wants to win. He wants to compete and win. ... When Roberto asked me, I said, I do believe that theres a light at the end of the tunnel for (the Panthers)," Brisson said. "I do believe theres a place where this team is going to go in the right direction." While the Canucks head in the direction of a rebuild, the Panthers look like a team on the upward climb thanks to new owner Vinny Viola and a cadre of young prospects GM Dale Tallon has assembled in the NHLs southernmost market. Through two games with his new team, Luongo has already caught a glimpse of what he and many hockey people believe is a bright future for the Panthers. Luongo sees potential stars in Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad and a handful more young players around the locker-room. At 34 years old, he wants to contribute to the revival of the franchise rather than riding coattails. "Its all about making a commitment to bringing some people in and trying to build a winner," Luongo said Sunday night after facing the Boston Bruins. "Thats what its all about for me. Im not here to fade into the sunset. I want to be part of something special coming here." Something special in the short term might just mean making the playoffs after missing in 11 of the past 12 seasons. Even as the Panthers head toward another early off-season, Bjugstad hopes its just "growing pains" as part of an important learning experience. Thats to be expected for a team whose top players include 18-year-old Aleksander Barkov, 20-year-old Huberdeau, and 22-year-old Erik Gudbranson. Players were on a bus in Boston when they found out Luongo was coming and represented something of a safety valve for mistakes of youth. "Any time you can have a solid goaltender behind you, it gives you confidence that you can make some plays," said 20-year-old forward Vincent Trocheck, who made his Panthers debut the same game Luongo returned. "If you do make a mistake, you know that hes back there to save your butt, basically." Yet in the larger scope, Luongo is not being asked to save a franchise by himself. It is, however, Tallons hope that trading for him "sets the tone" for the organization. The message of taking on the final eight-plus years and over US$28 million of Luongos contract was that the Panthers are willing to spend. Hours after making the move, Tallon said it was about making good on all the talk about wanting to win a Stanley Cup because "talk is cheap." Doing so could be expensive, but its not out of the realm of possibility that Florida has a better chance of winning a Cup in the next four or five years than Vancouver. "You never know," Luongo said. "Its tough to say. You hope so. Thats why Im here. I think the pieces are definitely here, just a matter of making sure that we bring the right piece to complement these young guys that are talented and theyre going to be stars in this league." Tallon has a plan. After already taking the goaltending gamble that was Jacob Markstrom out of the equation and getting Luongo, he has his sights set on signing, drafting or trading for two power wingers to support Barkov, Huberdeau, Bjugstad and Trocheck. The Panthers payroll is the lowest in the league at just over US$50 million, but with Viola in charge, Tallon expects to be "a cap team or close to a cap team" next season. Having almost $30 million of cap space could help the Panthers continue down the path to being a contender, but it also helps to have Luongo as a salesman and a symbol of the clubs all-out push to get better. "Its hard to recruit anybody if they dont think youre doing the right thing," Tallon said. "I think the commitment of making that deal and the commitment that Vinny Violas going to make ... will really influence a lot of decisions as far as players wanting to come here, seeing that were really committed to winning." Luongo didnt keep close tabs on the Panthers rebuild while he was playing for the Canucks because he didnt expect to get traded, let alone back to Florida. But Brisson, who just negotiated a two-year extension for winger Brad Boyes, had a good sense of what was happening. New ownership meant a new opportunity for Luongo. "If it was back to the former ownership where they werent sure what they wanted to spend, what they wanted to do, I wouldnt have recommended it at the time -- absolutely not," Brisson said. "If you look at good ownership and willingness to spend and the right chef, so to speak, the right cook in the kitchen, its an attractive place for Roberto and the players that are there." Tallon is that chef, and he has quite the recipe on his resume. Even though Stan Bowman was the general manager when the Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup, Tallon orchestrated much of the turnaround in Chicago. "It went well for them," Bjugstad said. "Thats kind of what were banking on." For every Blackhawks success story theres another example like the Edmonton Oilers, who are set to miss the playoffs for the eighth straight season despite three straight No. 1 picks and six in the top 10. They provide a cautionary tale for the Panthers, even as Tallon rattles off prospect after prospect who could make a difference. Each one of those young, unproven players represents essentially a raffle ticket for Florida, another chance to hit it big. But theres plenty of risk and uncertainty in that. "Obviously weve got to prove ourselves before we can get too excited," Bjugstad said. "Theres a ways to go." In Luongo, the young Panthers get a goalie who is already established. Even if his play is not Vezina Trophy-calibre, he could instill plenty of confidence on and off the ice. "I think maybe as more of an experienced guy in the locker-room to bring whatever I have learned over the years and maybe help them out along the way as far as just being a pro and all that kind of stuff to help their development," Luongo said. That team-wide development and progression toward a playoff team is still in the "early" stages, according to Tallon. Luongos addition speeds it up, but theres still no set goal on when he figures the Panthers will get over the hump. "I dont put numbers on that," he said. "I just let the players start to develop and see when theyre ready to make a real hit on the team as far as moving forward. And when they all come together as a group, as a team, not just in a group of individuals, thats when you pretty well know when youve got something special." Chris Ivory Jersey . -- Former British Open champion Darren Clarke has withdrawn from the Masters because of a hamstring injury. Julius Thomas Jersey . But its also a smart game. Theres more to the Kings than banging bodies. They take a toll mentally on their opponents. http://www.thejaguarslockroom.com/Youth-Roy-Miller-Elite-Jersey/ . With their second-round pick in Saturdays NHL draft at No. 36, the Canucks took the highest-ranked goalie on the board, Thatcher Demko, as new general manager Jim Benning begins the process of replenishing the organizations goaltending depth. CLEVELAND -- A trip to Progressive Field last month began a downward spiral for the Detroit Tigers. Their return visit could signal the start of a significant reversal. Max Scherzer pitched six strong innings, Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three runs, and the Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 10-4 on Sunday for a three-game sweep. The Tigers, swept in a three-game series at Cleveland in May, have won four in a row overall and reclaimed first place in the AL Central. "Were playing good baseball right now," Scherzer said. "If we play good baseball and do the little things right, were as good as any team in the American League. Thats what we did this series." The first trip to Cleveland began a 9-20 tailspin that dropped the Tigers out of first place for the first time this season. Manager Brad Ausmus is pleased his team finally seems to be out of its funk. "We played well here," he said. "Were playing better, obviously, but Im not going to make any declarations that anything is starting or finishing." Scherzer (9-3) bounced back from one of the worst outings of his career. The reigning AL Cy Young winner allowed 10 runs in four innings against Kansas City on Tuesday. Scherzer gave up one run and six hits, striking out eight. He was struck in the side of the right leg by Lonnie Chisenhalls line drive in the sixth, but recovered to throw him out and completed the inning. "That one hurt," Scherzer said. "He hit it good. My leg is planted into the ground, so it has no give. I wore the whole thing." Ausmus and a team trainer checked on Scherzer, who quickly indicated he wanted to remain in the game. Nick Swisher doubled, but David Murphy grounded out and Scherzer pumped his fist as he headed to the dugout. "His velocity actually went up after that," Ausmus said. Cabrera hit his 13th homer in the first, added an RBI single in the third and drove in a run with a grounder in the fifth when Detroit scored seven times. Josh Tomlin (4-5) allowed eight runs in four-plus innings. He faced six hitters in the fifth and all reached base. Cabrera, whose RBI double in the 10th inning Saturday gave Detroit a 5-4 win, lined a full-count pitch to right after Tomlin retired the first two batters in the firstt. Myles Jack Jaguars Jersey. The Tigers took advantage of errors by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and centre fielder Michael Bourn in taking a 9-0 lead in the fifth. "Against any team, if you give them extra opportunities, theres a decent chance you pay for it," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "They just blew it open and we helped them. They dont need the help." Singles by Ian Kinsler and Austin Jackson placed runners at the corners. Cabreras grounder scored a run -- the call of an apparent force play at second was overturned when a replay review requested by Ausmus showed the shortstop dropped the throw from Jason Kipnis before completing the out on Jackson. Bourn charged in for Victor Martinezs line drive but dropped the ball, loading the bases. J.D. Martinez, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, doubled to right before Nick Castellanos doubled to left for a 7-0 lead. Austin Romine added an RBI single off Kyle Crockett. J.D Martinez is batting .447 with four homers, five doubles and 11 RBIs in his hitting streak. Even though Torii Hunter is expected to return Tuesday in Texas after missing six games with a strained right hamstring, Martinez will remain in the lineup. "I dont see how I can take him out unless he tells he doesnt want to play or cant play," Ausmus said. Michael Brantley drove in three runs for Cleveland with an RBI double in the fifth and a two-run double in the ninth. NOTES: Cleveland has lost four of five at home since winning 10 straight at Progressive Field. ... Tomlin, who has lost three straight starts, has allowed a team-high 10 homers in 55 1-3 innings. ... The Indians committed three errors, bringing their season total to a major league-high 67. Cabrera leads the team with 14. ... ... Indians RHPs Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber have been taking batting practice and running the bases to get ready for interleague series at Arizona that begins Tuesday. ... Tigers LHP Patrick McCoy, called up from Triple-A Toledo following Saturdays game, made his major league debut and pitched a scoreless eighth. He replaced LHP Ian Krol, who has a sore shoulder, on the roster. ... Detroit RHP Chad Smith also made his first major league appearance and allowed three runs in the ninth. 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