A Wish Granted: Luongo traded home to Florida
By Brady Stark
It’s been a saga that has lasted the better part of two years. Roberto Luongo had been rumoured to be on his way out of the Vancouver Canucks organization when it was clear that Cory Schneider was taking over duties as the Canucks’ number one goaltender. Roberto Luongo was shopped around like a classic 1969 Dodge Charger; he has some miles but is still at the top of his class. It was evident from the very beginning that Luongo’s 12 year $64 million contract was going to be hard to move. We heard almost every team in the NHL wanting him at some point or another, but were weary of the commitment that having Luongo would be on their salary cap. Luongo even came out in a press conference and said that his contract sucked and that he wished he could scrap it to make the situation better for himself and for the Canucks. He wanted to go to the Florida Panthers, where he started his NHL career.
Luongo has given GM Mike Gillis a list of a couple of teams that he wanted to be traded to and the Panthers were number one. Then, on 30 June 2013 the Canucks finally trade their goaltender; the problem was that it was the wrong goalie packing his bags. Corey Schneider got traded on draft day to the New Jersey Devils in a move that surprised everyone. The Canucks felt like the return was better in a Schneider trade and that they wanted Luongo to be their starter again. On 3 March, at the Heritage Classic, the Canucks were set to take on the Ottawa Senators in a semi-outdoor game at BC Place stadium. Canucks fans everywhere were expecting the coaching staff and management to announce Luongo as the starter for the Canucks even though he hadn’t started a game in a few weeks because of the Olympics.
SURPRISE!! Eddie Lack is starting the biggest spectacle of the season and Luongo is now in his very familiar place of riding the pine. If fans were keeping score at home, this move would be about the twentieth time in the last two years the Canucks organization has screwed over the franchise’s best goaltender in favour of a younger talent. A younger talent, but not necessarily a better fit. Finally on 4 March 2014, the Canucks showed some mercy to a guy that has been a soldier throughout this whole ordeal, and sent him home. Roberto Luongo started his career with the Florida Panthers and is now poised to finish his career there. The Canucks traded Roberto Luongo and Steve Anthony to the Panthers for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias.
Despite the fact that Luongo has maintained that he loves the city of Vancouver and the fans that have supported him throughout his eight year stint, it was as clear as day that Florida is where his heart is. He met his wife in Florida, his children were born in Florida. Everything that Luongo has in his life is set in the great state of Florida. Once landing in Florida and getting settled into his new life, Luongo and the Panthers had a press conference to re-introduce him as the number one star that they will build their team around; one could not help but notice the way Luongo looked. He looked like a guy relaxed and at peace. He had a smile from ear to ear. Part of the smile was that the saga was over, part of it was that he was finally home. The place that he called home every summer is now his permanent residence. A wish finally granted. A circle finally completed.