VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Vancouver Canucks' regular goalie Robert Luongo is preparing to return to the lineup after missing 23 games with a groin injury.
The Canucks waived goalie Curtis Sanford Wednesday to clear space for Luongo. If Sanford isn't picked up by another NHL team he'll go to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.
"It was a very challenging decision for us," Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault said. "Curtis is not only respected and liked by his teammates, but the whole coaching staff and management felt exactly the same way."
The veteran Luongo, who was hurt in a game at Pittsburgh Nov. 22, said he's ready if called on to play when the Phoenix Coyotes visit Vancouver Thursday.
"I have no issues and I felt pretty good in practice as far as timing goes," Luongo said. "I'm ready to go for tomorrow."
Sanford was 7-8-0 with a 2.56 goals-against average for the Canucks.
Another goalie, Jason LaBarbera, who joined the Vancouver team two weeks ago, will remain in the lineup. LaBarbera has a 2-2-1 record since joining the Canucks.