An Open Letter to Roberto Luongo

Dear Bobby Lou,

I don’t even know where to begin with your career.

More than 1,500 games played,

489 wins,

77 shutouts,

5 time NHL All-Star,

It seems like you’ve had a great career, now all that’s left is just getting your name immortalized in Toronto.

My first exposure to hockey began in the year 2006, I had just turned 10 and didn’t know what hockey was to an extent. For my first ever NHL game, you were the goaltender at the helm, backstopping the Florida Panthers. Due to your play, Florida won that game 6-2 and it capped off my first hockey night, and the rest is history. I would be watching your play for most of my youth and even had you as my starter in NHL 06. It devastated me that you were traded to Vancouver, but I still continued to support you, even when you went to the Cup Final for a season. When you were traded back to Florida, I jumped for joy. I went to the first home game you came back to and it was like you never left. The crowd gave their “Luuuuu” chants after every save, and it felt like you were truly home.

Watching you in 2016 was also excellent and was also the first year I would attend a Panthers practice. Seeing you up close and being able to snap a photo was incredible and I was left shaking with joy. Chanting your name throughout the season was pretty much a go to for me and my friends that season.

I went to what was your final game as a Panther last season. It was a heart breaking loss. But I won’t lie, I was moments away from punching someone yelling at you to retire.

A few months later, you announced your retirement. It made my heart break at first but I understood the decision. You felt it was time and no one could change you mind about that. Besides, you deserved it. You played 20 seasons of hockey. I think most would agree that’s quite a feat.

However, seeing you at events and even working in the front office, it feels as if you never really left. You still work hard with the organization, you give back to the community, and you’re still hailed as an icon in the South Florida sports scene.

Saturday, I get to see you number be sent to the rafters, for no one else to touch. As the first player to ever get their jersey retired in the history of the Panthers, I don’t think there was a better option than you. To see your legacy cemented in the BB&T Center puts a smile on my face and puts smiles on many faces throughout the fans, the players and the franchise as a whole.

Roberto, thank you for everything you’ve done for this franchise, thank you for everything you’ve done for the community, and thank you for everything you’ve done in the NHL.

But most importantly, thank you for being you.


Joseph Ganzi

P.S.: Please don’t ever shut down your twitter account, it’s a diamond in the rough on the internet.

Thanks for reading this article! You can follow along with Panther Parkway @pantherparkway on Twitter! You can also follow our writers: @FrankRekas, @Josh_LOPanthers, @JacobWinans8, @prudentia0, @Mister_Joester! Make sure to follow and listen to our podcast @LOPanthersPod All images unless otherwise noted are courtesy of @KimSmithImages

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