Roberto Luongo’s Hall of Fame Induction Is Great for Hockey in Florida

On June 27, the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto announced the 2022 inductees. One of the biggest names on that list was former Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who would get in as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. As a result, it’s a massive statement for South Florida’s hockey scene as one of the biggest names in Panthers’ history will be enshrined forever.

Luongo’s Time with Florida and Vancouver

Luongo played in two separate times with the Panthers. One stint between 2000-2006 and another stint between 2013-2019. To get to his first stint, he was traded to the Panthers by the New York Islanders along with forward Olli Jokinen in exchange for forwards Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha on June 24, 2000. Arguably his best season as a Panther was in 2003-04 when he recorded seven shutouts, had a save percentage (SV%) of .931 and a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.43.

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In the end, however, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in the summer of 2006. His time there is where he defined his sucessful career. In his first season as a Canuck, he set a new personal best in single-season wins with 47, a new career-best GAA with 2.29 and a team record at the time of .921 SV%. Furthermore, he helped take his team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011 but ultimately lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games. Ultimately, he was a massive piece of a strong Canucks squad for years as he was nominated for the Vezina Trophy during his time and was a Vancouver representative at the All-Star Game multiple times. But, he was destined to come home to Broward County.

Florida Panthers Roberto Luongo
Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach, File)

For his second stint, he was traded back to Florida just before the trade deadline of the 2013-14 season on March 4, 2014. In the 2015-16 season, he was named to the All-Star Game that season. In addition, he went to the playoffs for the first time as a Panther. However, he ultimately lost in six games to the team that drafted him in the New York Islanders. It was great to see the goaltender have a resurgence in his career but he ultimately never saw the playoffs again. On Feb. 25, 2019, he passed Ed Belfour for third all-time in wins after a 4-3 overtime victory against the Colorado Avalanche. On June 19, he announced his retirement from hockey.

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As a result of his success in Florida, he was the first Panther player to have his jersey sent to the rafters on March 7, 2020. Luongo may have defined his career in Vancouver, but his heart stayed in Sunrise, Florida, as he decided to go to the front office as a special advisor to the general manager. He still gets to construct a winning team while also being close to the beach.

Luongo Was a Community Hero

He was well known for his performance on the ice, but what he did for his community is Hall of Fame worthy. After a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, he gave a powerful speech to the city of Sunrise before a game on Feb. 22, 2018.

“To the teachers of the school, you guys are heroes protecting your children. Some of them didn’t make it, trying to protect children. That is truly what a hero is. Those people need to be put on a pedestal for the rest of their lives.

Roberto Luongo on the teachers that lost their lives in the tragic school shooting at Stoneman Douglass High School.

Because of what he did for the students of MSD, he was nominated for the Bill Masterton Award that season. While he was not awarded it, this shows that he had an impact on the NHL community in a massive way.

Luongo Takes His Place Among Legends in Toronto

Despite not winning a Cup or a Vezina Trophy, Luongo still was voted to have his name immortalized in Toronto at the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was for being a fantastic teammate, a superhero in his community, and a leader among men in the locker room. His name being put among legends in Toronto is a massive echo for not only the Montreal-native goaltender, but hockey as a whole in South Florida.

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