Wednesday afternoon, longtime Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo announced his retirement from hockey after 19 seasons in the NHL.
Roberto Luongo made the announcement on Twitter, revealing his decision in an open letter to the fans. The goalie revealed that he wasn’t proud of his performances last season and that he wasn’t enjoying himself during this offseason, and injuries ultimately helped decide it was time to move on:
"“Looking back at last season, I just wasn’t happy with my performance. I played better in the second half, but it wasn’t up to the standards I expect of myself on a nightly basis.“My offseason workouts always start in the third week of May and I wasn’t looking forward to getting back in the gym. There’s a lot of work and effort required and I found my body telling me that it didn’t want to go through it.“Then thinking about getting onto the ice in late July, for the first time in my career, I wasn’t excited about it. That was the sign for me. It’s not that I don’t love playing hockey anymore, but I had to listen to my body.”"
Luongo, after playing a combined 163 games from 2014 to 2016, was limited to just 118 games in his last three NHL seasons, enduring multiple injuries over the twilight of his career.
For hockey players, enduring through injuries can be a part of the game, but at 40-years-old, these injuries can prove to be too much for players.
This past season was Luongo’s worst for the Panthers, in both stints with the franchise. In fact, this was the first season that Luongo’s save percentage slipped below .900%, albeit it was .899. Luongo gave up an average of 3.12 goals per game and had just one shutout over his last 43 games.
So, Luongo’s time in the NHL is finally done, but it will never be forgotten, especially in both Florida and Vancouver. Luongo’s all-time numbers for Florida are incredible, holding a record of 230-241-73 with a 2.61 GAA and a .919 save percentage, the most wins all-time in Panthers history.
Luongo holds three other Panthers club records: most games played by a goalie (572), most shutouts (38), and most saves made as a Panther (16,086). He finishes 4th all-time in games played, finishing behind Robert Svehla, Radek Dvorak, and Stephen Weiss.
Luongo made the playoffs just one time with the Panthers, in which he recorded one of his best games ever against the New York Islanders, denying 48 shots on goal in a 3-1 victory in Game 2 for the Panthers.
He had a 2.05 GAA across those six games and gave up more than three goals just once in the series. His time in the playoffs may better be remembered in Vancouver, in which he was apart of the Canucks’ 2011 Stanley Cup run.
Luongo, despite the lack of silverware, ranks as one of the best goalies of all time. Despite no Vezina trophies or Stanley Cups, Luongo finishes his NHL career 3rd all-time in wins and 9th all-time in shutouts. Luongo was an all-star five separate times, three of those times with the Panthers (2004, 2015, 2016).
Luongo had a lot of brilliant moments in South Florida, but the moment that I will always remember is his speech following the MSD shooting on Valentine’s Day, 2017.
Luongo gave a powerful three-minute speech addressing his reaction, being a resident of Parkland, and how the community needed to come together and help each other out.
I, as a fan, want to personally thank Roberto Luongo for his 11 years of service for the Panthers. While some of that time came before I was a fan, each one of your inspiring saves that made the whole crowd yell “LUUUUUUU” after every glove snag or pad stop were simply incredible, and you will go down as one of the best players in franchise history.
Roberto will surely be the first Panther player to have his number retired, and the #1 will be the second number to hang from the rafters of the BB&T Center.
While it hasn’t been released, early rumors are suggesting his number could be retired during the game against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, January 9th.
For everything that you did for the game of hockey and the Florida Panthers organization, we thank you, Roberto Luongo, for an outstanding career!