Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo announces retirement

Roberto Luongo has retired. (Getty)
Roberto Luongo has retired. (Getty)

Roberto Luongo has hung up the pads.

One of the winningest netminders in history and arguably the class of his generation, Luongo officially retired Wednesday, and he did so rather appropriately, with a Photoshop from his legendary Twitter account.

Luongo followed up the social media share with another fitting decision, sharing a classy first-person letter through the NHL’s official website.

In it, Luongo calls the decision to retire one of the “toughest” he’s faced, but knew he could not continue to invest the hours and undergo the maintenance required to compete at a high level since having hip surgery a few years ago.

“I've been showing up two hours before every practice and three hours before every game to work out my hip,” Luongo writes. “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.”

Luongo added that not meeting his standards last season was also a factor in his decision, but felt his body made the call for him when he was “dreading” getting back into his normal summer routine.

He ended his letter with the self-deprecation and humour that grew to help define his final few seasons in the NHL.

“Down the road we'll have a lot of time to discuss retirement and what's to come in the future,” he wrote. “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.”

With the third most wins in history, Luongo exits the sport as one of the most successful goaltenders ever, but failed to win a Stanley Cup. In the midst of the best stretch of his career, Luongo led the Vancouver Canucks to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, only to fall short versus the Boston Bruins.

Luongo had his most success with Canada at the international level. He won a World Cup, two World Championships, a silver medal at the World Junior Championship, and won two Olympic gold medals. He was the goaltender of record for Canada when Sidney Crosby scored the Golden Goal in Vancouver in 2010.

In a short stint with the Islanders, parts of eight seasons with the Canucks and 11 with the Panthers, Luongo amassed 489 wins, less than only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy.

As for how the retirement impacts this upcoming season and beyond, there are salary cap implications for both the Panthers and Canucks, who had retained a portion of his salary when they traded him back to Florida in 2014.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that it will cost the Panthers and Canucks in the neighbourhood of $1 million and $3 million in cap recapture penalties over the next three seasons, respectively.

Luongo will forfeit the money remaining on the long-term contract, which was set to run through the 2021-22 season. So the decision to move on to his next chapter isn’t without financial consequence for the 40-year-old.

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