Roberto Luongo becomes first player in Panthers history to have number retired
For the first time ever, the rafters of BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., have the number of a former player hanging up.
Former goalie Roberto Luongo had his No. 1 jersey retired in a ceremony on Saturday night before the Florida Panthers’ game against Montreal. He is the first player to receive the honor in the history of the Panthers’ organization.
Luongo spent 19 years in the NHL with the Panthers, Canucks, and Islanders, earning a number of honors along the way. He was a six-time All-Star, two-time NHL Second All-Star team selection, three-time Vezina Trophy finalist and a two-time Presidents’ Trophy winner. He also has the third-most wins by a goalie in NHL history (489), behind only Patrick Roy (551) and Martin Brodeur (691).
A native of Montreal, Luongo has made his family home in South Florida ever since his first stint with the Panthers back in 2000. He’s worked with the team as a front office executive this season after announcing his retirement in June.
“It’s been a great ride,” Luongo said in a speech during the ceremony. “It’s been amazing. It still is amazing when I walk in the community and talk to you guys and see you at the grocery stores. You guys have been behind me from day one and I am truly humbled to have been through this dream with you guys.”
He was noticeably emotional during his speech as the crowd serenaded him with shouts of “Luuuuu”. In a touching moment, his son, Gianni, also shed tears as the No. 1 jersey was lifted into the rafters.
Despite coming as close as game seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Luongo was never able to capture a championship as a player. Only time will tell if he can bring one to Florida as an executive.
Regardless, there will never be another player to wear the No. 1 for the Panthers.
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