Sunrise - June 26, 2019 - Roberto Luongo, the third-winningest goalie in NHL history, announced his retirement on Wednesday after 19 seasons.
"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 a letter posted on the Florida Panthers website. "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."
The 40-year-old is 489-392-91 with 33 ties, a 2.52 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and 77 shutouts in 1,044 NHL games with the New York Islanders, Panthers and Vancouver Canucks. His 489 wins are third behind Patrick Roy (551) and Martin Brodeur (691), his 1,044 games played are second to Brodeur (1,266), and he is ninth in shutouts. He also won gold medals with Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
Luongo was 18-16-5 with a 3.12 goals-against average, an .899 save percentage and one shutout in 43 games (40 starts) for the Panthers this season.
"After this season ended and I had an opportunity to step away, I started thinking about things," he wrote. "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. I wanted to be the backstop, to give my team a chance to win every night. I wanted to be on top of my game, stealing wins. It just wasn't there, at least not as much as I wanted it to be.
"As May rolled around, I was looking at the calendar and I found myself dreading getting back into my routine. 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."
The Islanders selected Luongo with the No. 4 pick of the 1997 NHL Draft, and he made his NHL debut with the Islanders against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 28, 1999. New York traded him to the Panthers on June 24, 2000.
Luongo was an NHL Second-Team All-Star in 2003-04, when he finished with a .931 save percentage despite going 25-33 with 14 ties. The Panthers traded him to the Canucks on June 23, 2006, and he won at least 30 games in each of his first six seasons with the Canucks, including 47 in 2006-07, when he was a Second-Team All-Star and runner-up for the Hart and Vezina trophies.
On Sept. 2, 2009, Luongo signed a 12-year contract with the Canucks. Because Luongo retired before that contract expired (in 2021-22), the Panthers and Canucks each will have NHL salary cap recapture charges for the next three seasons.
Luongo led the NHL with 38 wins in 2010-11 and finished with an NHL career-best 2.11 GAA, combining with backup Cory Schneider to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, which honors the goalies on the team allowing the fewest goals during the regular season. Luongo had four shutouts during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help the Canucks reach Game 7 of the Final, but they lost 4-0 to the Boston Bruins.
The Canucks traded Luongo back to the Panthers on March 4, 2014. He had his last 30-win season in 2015-16, going 35-19-6 to help the Panthers finish first in the Atlantic Division. However, they lost to the Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round. Luongo had offseason hip surgery and played 40 games in 2016-17, then missed much of the 2017-18 season with hand and groin injuries, and injuries limited him again this season.
He was the face of the Panthers for much of his time with Florida, never more so than Feb. 22, 2018, when he stepped onto the ice at BB&T Center at the Panthers' first home game following the shooting deaths of 17 people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, eight days earlier. Luongo and his family are Parkland residents.
"To the families of the victims, our hearts are broken for you guys," Luongo said. "There's not much to say. It's heartbreaking. You guys are in our thoughts. We've been thinking about you every day constantly for the last week. Just know that we're there for you if you guys need anything. You'll be in our prayers. Let's try and move on together."
In his letter, Luongo said he'd like to stay with the Panthers in some capacity.
"Once I've had some time to process this and make the adjustment, I'd love to be part of the Panthers organization," he wrote. "This is where my home is, and I still love and want to be involved with hockey. At the end of the day, maybe I didn't win the Stanley Cup on the ice, but perhaps I can still put my name on it in another way. It wouldn't be quite the same, but it would still be quite the accomplishment.
"For now though, I'm just another retiree in South Florida. I'll be going to get my senior citizen's card here pretty soon."