Playing for the Canucks has been a lifelong goal for Brad Lukowich
Security has been tight in the underbelly of UBC Thunderbird Arena since Vancouver Canucks training camp began there on the weekend.
Burly men in black shirts with radios and crossed arms have been keeping an eye out for fans trying to sneak into the staging area to catch a glimpse of Roberto Luongo or Ryan Kesler with their guard down.
Thus far there haven’t been any intruders, but security did a double take when defenceman Brad Lukowich took a stroll through the halls on day one.
As curious as a toddler with a smile from ear-to-ear, Lukowich looked more like an ecstatic fan than a 10-year NHL veteran. This is far from his first rodeo, but he’s certainly not acting like it.
The native of Cranbrook, BC is simply beside himself that he’s in Vancouver vying for a coveted spot on the Canucks blueline. This isn’t just a childhood dream come true for the 33-year-old, his goal of one day playing for the Canucks was alive and well up until he and Christian Ehrhoff were traded to Vancouver in late August.
“The first team we always called anytime I was a free agent was Vancouver, unfortunately they had a lot of D back then as well and it just wasn’t in the works for me,” Lukowich revealed.
He’s got that opportunity now and he isn’t about to pass it up.
Despite being one of 10 players on one-way contracts competing for a top-six defensive spot with the Canucks, Lukowich is confident the addition of his skill set to the blueline would bolster the team.
“When I started in Dallas my first roommate was Craig Ludwig and it was for a reason. That’s the kind of player they wanted me to be and I’ve just consistently done that.
“I take care of my own end first, do everything defensively, and if anything offensive happens, that’s a bonus for me. I take care of my end first and it’s not a glorifying job but the wins are very glorifying for me.”
Lukowich’s experience of having won two Stanley Cup championships (with Dallas in 1998-99 and Tampa Bay in 2003-04) would also do wonders for the Canucks. He finally feels that he understands how to provide leadership and when to step in and Lukowich is prepared to do so if the situation calls for it this season.
“You don’t want to walk around like you know everything first of all,” he laughed. “There’s similarities in teams that win and unfortunately there’s similarities there when teams lose and if you see it creeping in you mention things to certain people and hopefully guys buy in.
“It doesn’t just take the one guy. You open your mouth and you try to be one of those leaders that steps up and you’ve got to have the rest of the guys buy in and believe.”
Essentially Lukowich is here to nab a spot on defence and provide as much leadership as possible, but just to be part of the team it seems he’d be willing to help Red with the team’s laundry.
“I just love Vancouver,” he gushed, admitting that he has NHL Center Ice at home and the Canucks are the team he always watches.
He was especially drawn in last season when he, like many of us in BC, had that funny feeling the team was destined to hoist the Cup. Although pleased by what the team accomplished, Lukowich was more impressed with how the players handled themselves after bowing out of the playoffs.
“The interviews after, that was the thing that was key to me. The things that guys said in those interviews, the accountability that guys took upon themselves, there was no finger pointing and that’s a huge step to winning, it really is.”
Lukowich will get his first crack of achieving his goal of patrolling the backend on Monday night when the Canucks faceoff against the New York Islanders as part of Kraft Hockeyville 2009 in Terrace, BC.
Playing for the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers back in his junior days, Lukowich experienced the thrill of witnessing NHL hockey first hand as the Canucks used to hold training camp in Kamloops.
He’ll now return the favour to fans in the coastal community by playing the exhibition game like it’s the last of his career and signing autographs until he can’t grip his stick.
Lukowich may be one of the big guys sporting Canucks jerseys these days, but he isn’t quick to forget when playing for Vancouver was still a dream.
Although he’s quick to point out that until he makes the team, it still is.