On March 7th, 2020 the Florida Panthers will raise the No. 1 into the rafters, never to be worn again. Roberto Luongo will be the first player in Panthers franchise history to have his number retired after he recently called it quits on a phenomenal career. Panthers GM Dale Tallon explained why the team made this decision:
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 finished his career with the second-most games played by any goaltender in the history of the NHL, and trails only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy in wins. Despite having a career .919 save percentage including eight seasons of at least .920, Luongo never won a Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender. Though he never took home that honor, there was no denying his impact on the Panthers and Florida both on and off the ice.
In 572 games with the Panthers, Luongo did his very best to keep the organization afloat. Playing through some very lean years in the early part of his career he established himself as one of the league’s premier workhorses, facing the most shots in the league on a regular basis. He unfortunately never did make the playoffs until transitioning to the Vancouver Canucks in the middle of his career, though he eventually made it back with Florida closer to the end.
Even for all the work he has done in goal, his off-ice contributions may be even bigger. While some players may only be present in a community during the season, Luongo has entrenched himself in South Florida and took up residence in Parkland. When the suburb was shaken by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, Luongo delivered an emotional speech explaining what the community meant to him, and how he will be a part of it for the rest of his life. The Panthers have decided to make sure he endures in their building as well.