The Florida Panthers announced on Monday that goaltender Roberto Luongo would become the first player in the history of the franchise to have their jersey retired. The ceremony will happen on Saturday, March 7, 2020, when the Panthers host the Montreal Canadiens.
Luongo announced his retirement from the NHL on June 26, 2019, capping off a 19 season career at age 40. His 489 career wins placed him third of all time, with only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy ahead of him. At the time of his retirement, Luongo was also one of three goaltenders in NHL history to play 1,000 games.
In addition to his on-ice achievements, Luongo was also a respected voice in the Flordia community. In the wake of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, Luongo saluted the activist students in an emotional pregame speech at the Panthers’ first home game following the incident.
Luongo will become the first #FlaPanthers player in franchise history to have his jersey number retired on March 7, 2020.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) August 12, 2019
“Roberto is a cornerstone of Panthers history and an icon of the game,” Panthers Owner and Governor Vincent J. Viola said in a statement. “He has represented himself and the Panthers with tremendous dignity, determination and a standard of excellence throughout his career. Roberto exemplifies what it means to be a Florida Panther. His level of commitment to this franchise, his teammates, his family and the South Florida community is second to none. There is no player more deserving to be the first Florida Panther to have his jersey number retired.”
Panthers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Dale Tallon also commented on the decision to retire Luongo’s jersey. “A true professional, competitor and gentleman, Roberto set the standard for players in this organization. There was never a question in any of our minds that Roberto would be the first Panthers player to have his number retired by the franchise. One of the game’s most iconic goaltenders, he gave his heart and soul to the Panthers and the South Florida community and carried himself with dignity, modesty and humor. Roberto is most deserving of this honor and we are thrilled for him, and his family.”
Luongo also released a comment via the Panthers about the organization retiring his jersey.
“I want to thank the entire Panthers organization for this incredible recognition,” said Luongo. “It’s quite an honor to be the first player to have his number retired by the Panthers. I’m truly looking forward to sharing this special night with my friends, family, teammates and the Panthers fans.”
Luongo was selected fourth overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders. The Panthers acquired him by trade in 2000, and Luongo played in Florida until June 23, 2006, when he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Luongo rejoined the Panthers on March 4, 2014, and remained with them until his retirement.
I’m floored by the fact that in a two months span I went from being a fine tuned professional athlete to only wearing shorts with an elastic band…….
— Strombone (@strombone1) July 7, 2019
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