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

Nanoose Bay carver goes all-in on projects

Bellis creates eight-foot totem as Christmas gift for wife

Oceanside RCMP auxiliary officer earns top honour for volunteer work

Dally presented special award by Island Commander

‘A really kind person’: Parksville’s Nick Major remembered by instructor

Outpouring of support in the days following death of young man

Qualicum Beach council talks East Village plans, traffic calming

Ideas floated for village as a pedestrian-friendly area attracting tech, digital arts industry

Island residents team up on beach cleanups, call for government regulation

‘It’s way beyond what we can deal with’: Lasqueti, Texada, Denman islanders

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

Islanders have new cancer screening option with $6.5 M diagnostic suite in Victoria

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

B.C. Ferries crew member’s medical emergency causes cancellations on Nanaimo route

One sailing from West Vancouver and one sailing from Nanaimo cancelled Monday

Most Read