Luongo thanks Vancouver with newspaper ad

Roberto Luongo announced his retirement from hockey yesterday, putting to bed a Hall of Fame worthy career that spanned 19 seasons and left him third all-time in wins among NHL goaltenders. Though he played his most games in Florida, the best of Luongo’s career came here in Vancouver.

Luongo is undoubtedly the best goalie in Canucks franchise history. He joined a Canucks team that was mostly a goalie graveyard and put up six Vezina-calibre seasons. Luongo helped the Canucks become one of the league’s most dominant teams of the late 2000s, bringing them to within one win of the Stanley Cup in 2011. He also helped Team Canada’s win hockey gold on home soil for the first time ever in Vancouver in 2010.

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This morning, Luongo showed his appreciation to Vancouver by taking out an advertisement in The Province with a heartfelt letter to fans and the city:

Luongo also penned an emotional letter outlining the factors behind his decision…

There’s a lot I want to say.

This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve faced in my life and it took me a long time to make it.

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. Since I had my hip surgery a couple of years ago, I’ve been showing up two hours before every practice and three hours before every game to work out my hip. Even at night, whether it was the night before a game or even a night off, there I was rolling out, doing strengthening exercises. My entire life revolved around recovery, strengthening and making sure I was ready to go the next day.

I was willing to make that sacrifice because I love the game, I love being part of it, being in the action and competing with my teammates. I was willing to go through it all for my love of hockey.

After this season ended and I had an opportunity to step away, I started thinking about things. 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.

Then thinking about getting onto the ice in late July, for the first time in my career, I wasn’t excited about it. 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.

So I’ve decided to retire, and it’s been really tough. One of the hardest things I’ve gone through in making this decision was when I told Gianni and Gabriella, my kids. Seeing them cry when I told them about it because they loved coming to the games and watching me play so much, it really broke my heart. We cried together. It was hard, it was really sad.

It’s also hard because I live to compete. We play the game to win the Stanley Cup, to give ourselves a chance. 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.

That made it more complicated and it wasn’t something I took lightly. I questioned it, should I give it one more shot? Should I take one more chance to go for it?

Talking to my friends, my family, everyone that I know, they were all telling me to go try and play one more year. Even though the people I love and trust the most were saying I should go for it, it never really swayed my decision. That was another sign, and there have been a lot of them over the past couple of months that made it clear to me that retiring was the right decision.

I owe a lot to the people who’ve helped me reach this point. My wife Gina, she’s always been there for me, she’s the love of my life and the rock of my family. My brothers Leo and Fabio for the late-night calls and their council during ups and downs in my career. My parents, for all the sacrifices they made over the years, especially in my childhood when they’d find a way to carve out time they didn’t have to bring me to rinks all across Quebec. And my in-laws, each one of them, for embracing me like family before I’d even met my wife.

I’ve also been blessed to work with some great coaches. When I was young, trying to make a name for myself and got drafted, Frankie Allaire was there helping me. Ian Clark is one of the best goalie coaches I’ve ever worked with and helped me a lot during my time in Vancouver. Rollie Melanson too, he played a big part during my later years in Vancouver. And Robb Tallas, the last few years in Florida, we developed a great friendship and a special connection. He always had a good sense of the mental side of my game. He just knew how to get me to where I needed to be to be at my best.

The list of great players I was lucky to share the ice with and great guys I was lucky to spend time in the locker room with goes on and on, whether it was in Florida, Vancouver or with Team Canada. In Vancouver, I played with the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows, who became one of my best friends. In Florida – it makes me feel old to say it – but I played with Pavel Bure in my first stint, and my second time around I got to play with one of the best players in the league in Sasha Barkov.

The Panthers teams I’ve spent the past few years with, there’s so many great guys in the room – I don’t want to name anybody, because I don’t want to forget anybody – but there’s so many great people on this team. And that’s hard too, because I’m going to miss being around my teammates and going to battle with them every night.

And obviously there’s the fans, everybody who has supported me over the years. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. My life in this sport has been a great experience, and I’m glad I got to share some of my best hockey memories – from the Stanley Cup Final run, to the Olympic gold medal – with the fans in Vancouver.

I want to take a moment to thank the people of Vancouver. I’ll never forget the impact that city and their fans made not only on my career, but on my life as well. They will always hold a special place in my heart.

Down here in Florida, I’ve been able to make this place home. It’s the best place to live in the world and the fans have always been so warm and welcoming. When I’m out in Parkland, they’re always going out of their way to thank me for what I did on the ice and for what I did off of it in addressing the community in the wake of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas last year. It has always warmed my heart to hear those kind words from fans, and they’ve always had so many nice things to say to me about how I impacted them, in some small way.

I’m building a home in Parkland and it’s going to be my family’s permanent home for the rest of our time on this earth. I’m proud to be a Parkland resident. We’ve been through a lot, but we came together. We’ve tried to heal together and we’ve tried to make our community and our world a better place.

Now I suppose I have to tell you what comes next, but to be honest, I’m not really sure yet. Right now, for me, the most important thing is to take a couple of months off: let my body rest, enjoy some time with family, be home with the kids every day. We’re moving into a new house in late July, so it’s going to be pretty busy. Eventually, hockey is in my blood and I still want to be involved somehow, whatever it may be.

Once I’ve had some time to process this and make the adjustment, I’d love to be part of the Panthers organization. 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.

As I go through that process, I don’t really want to spend every day talking about this decision. I’ll have more to say eventually, but I’m looking for some privacy as I spend time with my family and reflect on my career. Down the road we’ll have a lot of time to discuss retirement and what’s to come in the future.

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.

What’s next for Luongo? The Canucks will be retiring Henrik and Daniel Sedin’s numbers this season and adding Alex Burrows to the ring of honour, both as major parts of the organization’s 50-year anniversary celebration. Will Luongo’s No. 1 be retired next? You can certainly make the argument that he was good enough for the honour.

    • North Van Halen

      The Canucks have had 4 potential Hall of Famers play significant roles for the franchise in 50 years. Bure (in), the Sedins (likely), and Luongo (sure fire).
      There may be some righteous angst over the screwing his retirement leaves the Canucks but it would be near impossible to deny what he meant to the franchise during his time. Bure’s was a divisive player, I personally didn’t like him as a player, and his departure was acrimonious from both sides. Everyone needed time to heal the wounds but his jersey retirement was inevitable and deserved, he was the most exciting Canuck ever and it’s not close.
      Luongo may need some time to forgive Canuck management and the fans and Canuck brass may need some time to get over the retirement screw job but Luongo was by far the greatest goalie in franchise history. His jersey retirement will be just like Bure’s, inevitable and deserved.

      • Goon

        The only hesitation I have is that, while Luongo played his best years in Vancouver and certainly was the best goalie in franchise history, he played the majority of his career in Florida.

  • Killer Marmot

    Some people have posited that Luongo retired (rather than, say, going on injured reserve) in order to spite the Canucks. I doubt that he would pass up $3.6 million in salary out of spite. If he was that small minded, he would likely opt for the money. Nor would he likely run such an advertisement. Luongo’s a class act.

  • Killer Marmot

    During the 2020s, there will be a deluge of NHL goalies worthy of serious consideration to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame, including Luongo, Lundqvist, Fleury, Miller, Rinne, Ward, Price and Quick.

    All of the above are in the top 31 goalies of all time in career wins, an unusual situation. Not sure how the HHOF will handle this.

      • Killer Marmot

        Luongo has the third most wins of any goalie. He will be enter in the first year of eligibility (2022, I suppose). The only caveat is if two or more of Thornton, Burns, or Chara also retire this year.

        Lundqvist has the 6th most wins of any NHL goalie ever, and a career save percentage of .918. He hasn’t won a Stanley Cup (although he’s been to the finals), but he’s played in a staggering 128 playoff games. He also has gold and silver Olympic medals. He is destined for the hall, without doubt.

        Miller has an decent chance, but not a shoe-in. He’s has the most wins of any American goalie, so that helps.

  • DogBreath

    The contract. Should people really be laying blame at him? Wasn’t it likely the management team and ownership group who devise and pitched it? True, he accepted the terms. It was creative at the time, but troublesome now. As we consider his contributions to the team, city and country, I’m focused on the positives. We’ve never seen a goalie like Lou in Vancouver. He put the team on his back and did everything he could to deliver a championship. Thank you Lou, for all the wonderful memories. Enjoy retirement. Hope to see you back in the game in some capacity.

  • CanucksRealist

    Let’s see. Got bailed out by the genius of Iggy and Sid after blowing the gold medal game in regular time the Olympics. Choked in the SC Final with a 2-0 series lead and got lit up by Boston and humiliated by the play of Tim Thomas. Lost us the cup.

    Demanded a trade only to Florida because of ego. Threw his teammates under the bus as Captain and then retired when a deal to go on LTIR was bettter for everyone except the Panthers!

    Luoango is not worthy of any BS retirements, ceremonies or the HHOF… no cup, no Hall and that goes for every player who didn’t win the ultimate prize. It’s like giving a Peerage to Justin Bieber! Ridiculous.