End of an era: Canucks’ Roberto Luongo traded to Florida Panthers
Published Tuesday, March 4, 2014 1:44PM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 7:25PM PST
After more than a year of expecting to be moved before reclaiming his starting goaltender job, the Vancouver Canucks’ Roberto Luongo has been traded back to the Florida Panthers.
The 34-year-old netminder said he was taking a pre-game nap prior to a game against the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday when he woke up to the news.
"I was not expecting it," a stunned Luongo told reporters in Glendale, Ariz. Tuesday. "Go figure, right? I mean, I don't have many words right now, it caught me off guard so, I'm just happy for myself and my family and obviously a little bit sad to be leaving Vancouver."
Luongo said he was looking forward to returning to Florida, which he called "home."
"The new ownership there is committed to winning and there's some good young players there, and it's a good opportunity for me," he said.
In return for Luongo and winger Steven Anthony, who has yet to play an NHL game, the Canucks received prospect goalie Jacob Markstrom and centre Shawn Matthias in return from Florida.
The move ends years of speculation and drama surrounding the embattled netminder, who most recently sat in favour of second-stringer Eddie Lack in Sunday's much-anticipated NHL Heritage Classic at BC Place Stadium.
Luongo publicly commented at the time that he was disappointed in the decision.
"Obviously it hurt that I didn't play that game, but at the same time, I was ready to play tonight. I had moved on and I was ready to go," he said Tuesday.
Luongo rejoins the Panthers after having been traded to Vancouver eight seasons ago.
On Tuesday, he slyly acknowledged the trade on his Twitter account by posting an image of a palm tree moments after the trade was announced.
— Strombone (@strombone1) March 4, 2014
Former teammate Eddie Lack, who for now looks poised to assume the Canucks' starting goaltender job, commented on losing Luongo, simply tweeting "#bromanceover" along with a tearful emoticon.
Luongo has eight years remaining on his 12-year contract, which was initially worth $64-million US.
TSN is reporting the Canucks will retain 15 per cent of the goalie's salary.
In 42 games with the Canucks this season, Luongo has a .917 save percentage and 2.38 goals against average.
While with the Canucks, he set team records for shutouts (38), wins (252), and most wins in a single season (47). Luongo has the second-most winning record out of active goaltenders in the NHL, with only veteran goalie Martin Brodeur above him.
Luongo said he's still not quite over losing the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2011 Final, but has many fond memories of his time with the team, the city and the fans.
"All in all it was a great run, and there was a lot of stuff that happened in between, but nothing but good things to say about the fans. They were really supportive, especially toward the end. It did not go unnoticed," he said.
He had requested a trade last off-season before goaltender Cory Schnieder was dealt to the New Jersey Devils. Despite the ongoing trade drama, Luongo said he had no hard feelings toward the Canucks organization.
Interestingly, Luongo will join goaltender Tim Thomas, the former Bruins' goalie who beat him in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, in Florida.
Before the Luongo trade was announced, most of the talk coming out of Vancouver prior to the March 5 trade deadline centered around centre Ryan Kesler, who was reportedly being shopped around.
The Canucks are set to play the Panthers on March 16 at the BB&T Centre in Sunrise, Fla.
With files from TSN.ca.