You guys asked for it, you got it...
The Panthers announced today that Roberto Luongo's #1 will be retired on Saturday, March 7, 2020. the ceremony comes before a game against the Montreal Canadiens.
He will be the first Panther ever to have his number retired by the organ-I-zation - pretty sweet!
You don't realize just how rich Lu's NHL career was until you see his achievements and numbers laid out in front of you and the Panthers site does a really nice job of just that:
"The Panthers originally acquired Luongo through a trade with the New York Islanders on June 24, 2000. As a rookie with Florida (2000-01), Luongo appeared in 47 games and finished the season with a .920 save percentage and five shutouts, setting franchise records for a rookie netminder. Over his first five seasons with the Panthers he played the third-most games among goaltenders in the NHL (317), tied for third-most shutouts (26), was a finalist for the 2003-04 Vezina Trophy, played in the 2004 NHL All-Star Game and set all Panthers major franchise goaltending records. Traded to the Vancouver Canucks on June 23, 2006, the Panthers reacquired Luongo on March 4, 2014. In his first game back in a Panthers sweater, on March 7, 2014, Luongo posted a shutout victory against the Buffalo Sabres at BB&T Center.
Luongo played 11 seasons with the Panthers, owning the club's franchise records for games played by a goaltender (572), wins (230), shutouts (38), saves (16,068) assists/points (13), single-season games played by a goaltender (75, 2005-06), single-season wins (35, 2005-06, 2015-16), single-season saves (2,303) and single-season shutouts (tied-7, 2003-04). His 572 games played in a Panthers uniform marks the fourth-most in franchise history by any player. Through his career with the Panthers, Luongo represented the club at the NHL All-Star Game three times (2004, 2015, 2016).
The Parkland, Fla., resident helped lead the Panthers to an Atlantic Division title and a franchise-best 103-point regular season in 2015-16. On the international stage, Luongo is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping backstop Team Canada to gold in 2010 and 2014. In his career with Canada at the IIHF World Championship, Luongo clinched gold at the 2003 and 2004 tournaments and also captured gold with Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey."
It seems that Lu becoming the first Panther to have his number retired was a no-brainer.
"Roberto is a cornerstone of Panthers history and an icon of the game. He has represented himself and the Panthers with tremendous dignity, determination and a standard of excellence throughout his career. Roberto exemplifies what it means to be a Florida Panther. His level of commitment to this franchise, his teammates, his family and the South Florida community is second to none. There is no player more deserving to be the first Florida Panther to have his jersey number retired."
- Panthers Owner / Governor Vincent J. Viola.
"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."
- Dale Tallon.
The best words belonged to the man himself. I've also really appreciated Lu's style of play, his talent and his ability to continue to compete at a high level, battling through injuries and deep into his thirties. Perhaps my favorite things about him is the fact that he's always seemed like a good guy and a great teammate (with a great sense of humor, too):
"I want to thank the entire Panthers organization for this incredible recognition. It's quite an honor to be the first player to have his number retired by the Panthers. I'm truly looking forward to sharing this special night with my friends, family, teammates and the Panthers fans."
[Image from Florida Panthers official site]
In Other Cats News: Worrell Becomes a Director
Panther alum, Peter Worrell, has been named Hockey Director of Panthers IceDen.
The former enforcer was taken by the Panthers in the seventh round (166th overall) of the 1995 NHL Draft. He would go on to play 342 regular season games for Florida from 1997-98 and 2002-03. During those years, he recorded 42 points (16G, 26A) and 1,375 PIM.
That's right, take a look at that PIM total again...
From the Panthers site:
"Worrell, 41, spent the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach with the Fayetteville Marksmen of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). Over the last decade in South Florida, the native of Pierrefonds, Quebec, served as head coach for Florida Atlantic University (ACHA Div. III) and North Broward Preparatory School."
In his role as the Director for the IceDen, Worrell will be responsible for the direction, administration, management, supervision and marketing of all programming needs. He'll also be in charge of youth and adult hockey programs - so none of you beer leaguers better think about getting out of line, or you'll have this guy to answer to...
[Image from Florida Panthers official site]