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

Vernon organization aiming to help teens at Christmas

Teens Count Too will be making gift presentations this week but is still accepting cash donations

For 52 people, it really is home for the holidays in Vernon

New My Place residential facility has occupants celebrating holidays in stable environment

Vernon community radio station inching closer to going on-air

Application to be put on public hearing agenda, likely in the spring.

Penticton Vees earn split with Vernon Vipers

Vees victorious 4-1 at home in back end of home-and-home series

North Okanagan Knights blanked in East Kootenays

Knights drop pair of KIJHL games in Fernie and Kimberley; lost five straight

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

In Photos: CP Rail Holiday Train lights up the Shuswap

The stop on the train’s Canada-wide journey came with a $5,500 donation to local food bank.

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Kelowna RCMP officer allegedly sexts assault victim

RCMP confirm investigation but hold back details

Old Christmas card has ties to Summerland agriculture

Card was sent by former director of Summerland Research Station

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

WATCH: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Most Read