Roberto Luongo is calling it a career.
After much speculation as to whether the Panthers goalie would return for a 20th season, Luongo announced Wednesday he was listening to his body and decided to retire.
“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve faced in my life and it took me a long time to make it,” Luongo wrote in a farewell letter, via the Panthers’ website. “After thinking about it a lot over the past two months and listening to my body, I made up my mind. It just feels like the right time for me to step away from the game.”
1,044 NHL GP (second-most by a goaltender)
489 NHL W (third-most wins)
2x Olympic gold medalist
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) June 26, 2019
According to Luongo, the hip surgery he had a couple of years ago was a huge reason he decided to end his NHL career. He said he needed to show up 2-3 hours before practices and games to work out his hip so he didn’t injure it again.
The time, commitment and mounting pressure became too much for him, and Luongo said he found himself dreading his offseason workouts.
“… Thinking about getting onto the ice in late July, for the first time in my career, I wasn’t excited about it,” Luongo wrote. “That was the sign for me. It’s not that I don’t love playing hockey anymore, but I had to listen to my body. I’m at the point where my body was telling me it just needed a rest. It didn’t really want to get going.”
The legend hangs up his pads.
Thank you for everything, Lu. pic.twitter.com/eOUjanrJGU
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) June 26, 2019
Luongo, 40, added that telling his children was difficult, since they love seeing their dad play. He also talked to family and friends about the decision, and even though they told him to play one more season, he said he felt that retirement was the best course for him.
He added that he will remain in southern Florida and he and his family will be moving into a new house in Parkland this summer.
I’ve decided to take my talents to a South Beach retirement home ✌🏼 pic.twitter.com/BTuZIo8XT8
— Strombone (@strombone1) June 26, 2019
“I’m looking for some privacy as I spend time with my family and reflect on my career. Down the road we’ll have a lot of time to discuss retirement and what’s to come in the future,” Luongo said of remaining involved with hockey.
“For now though, I’m just another retiree in South Florida. I’ll be going to get my senior citizen’s card here pretty soon.”
Luongo was drafted by the Islanders with the fourth overall pick in 1997 and began his NHL career in 1999, where he remained for one season.
He was then traded to the Panthers in his first stint with the team until 2006. He headed up north to play with the Canucks in 2006 and was signed to a 12-year, $64 million contract in 2010. However, he was ultimately dealt back to Florida at the 2014 trade deadline for Jakob Markstrom, Shawn Matthias and AHL forward Steven Anthony.
In 1,044 NHL games played, Luongo posted a career 2.52 GAA and .919 save percentage.