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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Influx of cross-border visitors to Peace Arch Park sparks concern COVID-19 could spike

Police, parks officials say patrols, education and signage have all been increased

North Delta crime beat, week of May 17

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

COLUMN: For real leadership amid crisis, look west of Scott Road

Delta council, under direction of Mayor George Harvie, defines leadership during pandemic

UPDATE: Funding announced for pair of North Delta salmon conservation projects

Grants for Cougar Creek-related works by Burns Bog Conservation Society, Cougar Creek Streamkeepers

Delta playgrounds, basketball hoops, reopening June 1

Skate and bike parks in the city were reopened last week

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read