Vancouver Canucks’ Tyler Motte (64) crashes into the net behind Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) after having the puck taken away by Bogdan Kiselevich (55), of Russia, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Sunday January 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo to retire

‘Bobby Lou’ calls it a career after 19 NHL seasons

Former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo is retiring.

The 40-year-old from Montreal made the announcement Wednesday on his Twitter account.

His 489 career victories are third in NHL history behind only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy, and Brodeur is the only goalie to have appeared in more games or made more saves than Luongo.

He was the fourth overall pick in the 1997 draft by the New York Islanders, with whom he made his NHL debut on Nov. 28, 1999. Luongo then spent five years with Florida, the next eight with Vancouver, and returned to the Panthers on March 14, 2014.

“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve faced in my life and it took me a long time to make it,” Luongo wrote in an open letter to fans. “After thinking about it a lot over the past two months and listening to my body, I made up my mind. It just feels like the right time for me to step away from the game. I love the game so much, but the commitment I required to prepare, to keep my body ready, has become overwhelming.”

Luongo had been slowed by hip problems in recent years, and the off-ice work just to make it through practices and games took a toll.

“From the moment I was fortunate enough to share a locker room with him, Roberto has exemplified leadership for me,” Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck said in a statement distributed by the Panthers. “There isn’t a classier, more professional guy in this league. He’s a great hockey player and somehow an even better person.”

The Panthers were prepared for the likelihood that Luongo may step away. Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said last week that Luongo’s career had been “illustrious” and that the franchise was giving its most beloved player all the time he needed to make his decision.

“The impact that he has had on the developing core of our team, its culture and our community are undeniable,” Tallon said. “He has always approached everything with a determination and level of class that was second to none. He leaves not only a legacy in South Florida, but a legacy in the game itself.”

READ MORE: Former Canuck Roberto Luongo addresses Florida shooting victims

Florida hired Joel Quenneville as coach earlier this off-season, and is believed to be a frontrunner to sign top free agent goalie Sergei Bobrovsky along with Artemi Panerin — both of whom were in South Florida earlier this week to meet with the Panthers in advance of the signing period that starts Monday. Bobrovsky was a top priority for Florida even before Luongo let the team know that he was retiring.

“We play the game to win the Stanley Cup, to give ourselves a chance,” Luongo said. “It’s hard because I think that this team is right there, close to taking the next step. I wanted nothing more than to be a part of that. With Coach Q coming in, it’s an exciting time for the Florida Panthers.”

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Citizens tackle jewel thief in downtown Duncan

Suspect taken into custody after watch-snatcher chased through the streets

Vancouver Island homes targetted while residents on vacation

Saanich Police issue warning after nearly 20 break-ins while homeowners away

‘Goodness prevails’: neighbours reflect following suspicious death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Martin Payne was found dead in his Metchosin home on Friday. Police have confirmed foul play.

Campbell River zap-straps dangerous gap after toddler’s near miss

Mom relieved city acted quickly after near miss and will make a permanent repair

Celeb adds star power to Green Party town hall in Nanaimo

Pamela Anderson attended with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Greater Victoria teacher’s certification suspended for inappropriate conduct with female students

Gregory Garos was employed by the District as a middle school teacher

Mamma Mia! smashes Chemainus Theatre Festival ticket sales record

Total expected to surpass 30,000 tickets sold before the show ends summer Island run

Province agrees to fund investigation of new Lake Cowichan bypass

Province won’t build the road but is ready to start the ball rolling by paying for the first step

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Parksville not ready for waterfront skyscrapers — yet

IAG Developments go back to drawing board after high-rise application deferred by council

Passion for the harbour fuels Victoria waterfront entrepreneur

Purchase of Esquimalt Drydock is the latest example of what drives Ian Maxwell

Dormant Chemainus Foods building soon to be revived

Market expected to bring new life to the downtown core

Most Read