In between his time with the Panthers, Roberto Luongo spent eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. The team loved him, but Luongo’s heart was here in Florida. On January 8, 2015, the Florida Panthers played the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver and it was Luongo’s first time playing there since being traded from the team. Read more about Luongo’s first game back in Vancouver as a Panther below.
On January 8, 2015, the fans in Vancouver roared as Luongo returned to the ice. Only this time, it was as a Panther. From 2000 to 2006, Luongo played for the Panthers. On June 23, 2006, Luongo was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. He played in Vancouver for 8 years but was ultimately traded back to the Panthers on March 4, 2014. He was a beloved player and the Canucks fans were sad to see him leave the team, but Luongo was glad to be back in Florida and found a home with the Panthers.
The game started off with a short Salute to Luongo that highlighted his eight years with the Canucks. The video was heartwarming, kind, and respectful and admittedly, it gave me the chills. Luongo’s reaction to the salute was genuine and he was clearly proud of his service with the team and his connection with the fans. He gestured to the fans to display these feelings. Yet, these nostalgic feelings certainly did not distract Luongo, who led the Panthers to a 3-1 victory that night.
Luongo went on to make 32 saves on 33 shots for a .970 save percentage. Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals that night and Aleksander Barkov scored the other. Luongo played with passion and character against his former team, so much so that he was awarded the first star of the game. This game was a turning point for Luongo, as it was not only a way for him to tie up loose ends with the Canucks, but also a way to show that he was (and still is) fully committed to the Panthers and will do anything it takes to win for the team.