Former Canucks Goalie Roberto Luongo Announces NHL Retirement After 19 Seasons

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 3: Goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers defends the net against the Ottawa Senators at the BB&T Center on March 3, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. The Senators defeated the Panthers 3-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday.

Luongo, who also played for the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders during a 19-year professional career, wrote an open letter to his fans about the decision.

"This is one of the toughest decisions I've faced in my life, and it took me a long time to make it," he explained. "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 had three seasons left on the 12-year, $64 million contract he originally signed with the Canucks in 2009.

New York selected Luongo with the fourth overall pick in the 1997 NHL draft. He made his NHL debut with the Isles during the 1999-2000 campaign but ended up making just 24 appearances for the organization before getting traded to Florida in June 2000.

He spent 11 seasons with the Panthers across two stints sandwiched around an eight-year run in Vancouver.

Luongo struggled with injuries in recent seasons, however, which prevented him from taking on a workhorse role. He said those issues factored into his decision, and he detailed the moment he knew it was time to call it quits in the open letter.

"Then thinking about getting onto the ice in late July, for the first time in my career, I wasn't excited about it," he wrote. "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. I'm at the point where my body was telling me it just needed a rest. It didn't really want to get going."

The Montreal native finishes his NHL career as the owner of a 614-489-124 record with a 2.52 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage across 1,044 regular-season appearances.

His resume features six All-Star Game selections and splitting the William M. Jennings Trophy with Canucks teammate Cory Schneider for the 2010-11 season.

Luongo never captured the Stanley Cup as a player—"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," he wrote, hinting at a possible front-office or coaching role—but he did win five gold medals while playing for Canada, two in the Olympics, two in the World Championship and one in the World Cup.

Any new jobs will have to wait, as the goaltender wrote he's going to let his body rest and spend time with his kids before deciding his next step.

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