In typical fashion, Florida Panthers longtime goaltender Roberto Luongo announced his retirement Wednesday.
I’ve decided to take my talents to a South Beach retirement home ✌🏼 pic.twitter.com/BTuZIo8XT8
— Strombone (@strombone1) June 26, 2019
Ok, he actually used a slightly more serious platform to mark the occasion.
In an honest and open letter to Florida Panthers and NHL fans, Luongo voiced his decision with great sincerity.
Reactions around hockey and in the world of sports have been pouring in.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) June 26, 2019
Luongo exits the NHL after an illustrious 19-year career, leaving an impressive if complex legacy.
He came into the league as a 20-year old rookie for the New York Islanders, who did not feel he was the one.
Instead, Luongo was quickly traded to Florida after New York drafted Rick Dipietro first overall the following year. That deal also brought over franchise great Oli Jokinen.
In 2004 during his fourth season with the Panthers he began his ascension towards greatness, earning a second team All-Star nod and finishing third in the Vezina Trophy race.
As quickly as the tide was rising on Luongo’s career, the winds of change would soon alter the course of not one, but two franchises.
After the 2005-06 season, Luongo would be traded to the Vancouver Canucks, starting a new chapter and earning a place in another team’s record books.
Potential met in Vancouver
Luongo would not disappoint in his debut season for the Canucks, posting a 47-22-6 record with a stellar .921 and 2.28 GAA respectively.
He would earn another second team All-Star selection and finish second in both the Hart and Veniza trophy races. His 252 wins and 38 shutouts are Canucks records, and he ranks second in games played (448), GAA (2.36), and SV % (.919).
Vancouver was a consistent playoff team with Lu in net, making the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2010-11 season. The Canucks would lose a heartbreaking series to the Boston Bruins, after leading 3-2 in the series. This series defined the legacy of Lu, from two shutouts wins to a three-goal meltdown and benching in Boston which changed the series.
From Sunrise to Sunset
Luongo was traded back to the Panthers in March, 2014 to finish rewriting the record books in Florida. Another excellent run would ensue but the team could not quite get over the hump.
Injuries as they usually do began to take their toll, after being durable most of his career the last three years were tough for Luongo.
He would undergo hip surgery after only starting 39 games in the 2016-17 season, and would split time more in those final seasons with the emerging James Reimer. He is the Cats leader in career wins (230) and shutouts (38), like in that other place.
Unlike with the Canucks however, he enjoyed much less postseason success in his second stint. Luongo has also endured more defeats (241) than any other goalie in Panthers’ history.
Building a supporting cast around the franchise goalie was never successful, and Lu paid the price behind a subpar blue line for years.
Now a 19-year career split almost evenly between two franchises ends.
Where he ranks in the pantheon of both organizations is an interesting question.
It is no doubt high.
But is it the height of rafters?
He may have played to his own beat, but the Strombone sure composed a masterpiece.
At least now he will have more time for elite Twitter activity.
My Uber driver Miguel is rocking out to his Britney Spears playlist and I’m totally here for it #itsbritneybitch
— Strombone (@strombone1) September 26, 2018