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With their team missing the playoffs the past five seasons, the Panthers traditionally have been well represented at the springtime World Championships.


Not so this year.


Goalie Roberto Luongo said Thursday he has decided against playing for Canada in the May games. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester also is leaning against playing for Canada, and captain Olli Jokinen is doubtful to represent Finland. Rookie Rostislav Olesz also said he won't be able to represent the Czech Republic because of his sore knee.


''I've been battling some injuries the past few months, and it's been a long year,'' said Luongo, who also played in the Winter Olympics. ``It was tough to say no, to be honest. It would be best if I sat this one out. I think it's just the best decision for me.''


Luongo said if this were a non-Olympics year, he likely would have gone to Latvia and played for Canada. Luongo added that this was the first time he had turned down an invitation from Team Canada.


''You always want to represent your country, but you have to think about your body,'' he said.






• Thursday was packing day for the Panthers, with players meeting with coach Jacques Martin and his staff before packing up their lockers and moving on. The Panthers ended their season with a win Tuesday against Atlanta and took Wednesday off.


• The league held its annual draft lottery Thursday morning, with the Panthers remaining pat and holding their 10th overall pick. The Blues won the lottery and have the first pick in the draft for the first time. Pittsburgh will pick second, followed by Chicago, Washington and Boston. The draft is June 24 in Vancouver, British Columbia.






Hopefully we get some news regarding a Luongo signing soon.

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