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The Day Vancouver Traded Roberto Luongo Back to Florida



Luongo vancouver
Roberto Luongo, pictured here during the third period, made his return to the Florida Panthers and made 25 saves in a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on March 7, 2014, in Sunrise. Note the mask. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

The timing of Roberto Luongo being traded back to the Florida Panthers from the Vancouver Canucks in 2014 was very odd.

Tonight, the Canucks will honor the Hall of Fame goalie by inducting Luongo into their Ring of Honor — although they are not retiring his No. 1 as the Panthers did in 2020.

On March 4, 2014, Luongo was going to start for the Canucks in Arizona against the Coyotes.

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Although there had been talks that Luongo would one day make it back to Florida — if Vancouver was going to trade him, that is the only place he would accept — things had certainly died down by the time the trade deadline rolled around.

Luongo, who had made his home in South Florida all while playing across North America with the Canucks, had all but given up on the thought of returning.

Then it happened.

“It’s nice, it’s home,’’ Luongo said. “This is a good opportunity for me.’’

Luongo mentioned how the new owners of the Panthers were committed to winning as this was the first season under Vinnie Viola’s stewardship.

Florida was languishing near the bottom of the standings, having fired Kevin Dineen earlier in the season, although the team had shown signs of life under interim Peter Horachek.

Still, any thought that the Panthers would pull a deal like this would come in the offseason.

At the deadline, teams were looking for assets for a playoff push — and the Panthers were not in that category.

Yet the opportunity was there as Luongo and then-Vancouver coach John Tortorella clashed, and the Cancucks were willing to make a deal and shed what remained of Luongo’s $32 million contract.

Florida GM Dale Tallon got the approval from Viola to make the deal — one that went down while Luongo was taking his pregame nap in Arizona.

Luongo awoke to the news.

“It’s huge, he is a big name down here,’’ Tallon said. “It sets the tone for our franchise. … [We] want to win the Stanley Cup, but talk is cheap. We’re acting and following up on what we said we would do.

“I was given the green light, and here we are.’’

Before that, the biggest story surrounding the Panthers that day as they prepared to play the Bruins was the return of Florida goalie Tim Thomas in Boston and the trade of defenseman Mike Weaver to Montreal.

Thomas met with the media before the game a few hours before the trade and, afterward, spoke of being able to play alongside Luongo, a rival dating back to their days in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

However, Thomas told his agent he wanted to be traded.

Tallon granted that wish the following day, sending Thomas to Dallas.

Florida had a Tim Thomas Bobblehead Day scheduled and, after first canceling it, went ahead and gave them out after all.

Luongo got off to a hot start in South Florida.

While wearing his famed ‘Pink Panther’ mask he pulled off a bookshelf in his Parkland home, Luongo pitched a shutout in his return against Buffalo on March 7.

The following season, under new coach Gerard Gallant, the Panthers started taking shape as an up-and-coming team and made another big splash at the trade deadline by acquiring Jaromir Jagr.

In 2016, Luongo — named to the All-Star team — helped lead the Panthers back to the playoffs as Atlantic Division champions.

Luongo ended up playing two stints with the Panthers, first from 2000 until Mike Keenan traded him to the Canucks in a huff at the 2006 NHL Draft — which coincidentally happened to be held in Vancouver.

In Round 2, Luongo played parts of six seasons with the Panthers, announcing his retirement following the 2018-19 season.

Florida signed Sergei Bobrovsky a few days later.

Look Who’s Back! Roberto Luongo Joins Florida Panthers at Practice

Luongo, now in the Panthers’ front office, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022 after spending 19 seasons in the NHL.

He was a member of five All-Star teams, won the Gold medal with Canada at the Olympics twice, and led the Canucks to the 2011 Cup Final, where they lost in 7 to Thomas and the Bruins.

Last February, he participated in the All-Star Weekend in Sunrise as a celebrity goalie.

“I don’t know why I agreed to this,’’ he quipped.

Tkachuk, Barkov & Luongo Best of Show at NHL All-Star Skills



  • When: Thursday, 10 p.m.
  • Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
  • Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-0
  • This Season (Vancouver Leads 1-0) — At Florida: Canucks 5, Panthers 3 (Oct. 21). At Vancouver: Thursday.
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Vancouver leads 19-13-4, 6 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Edmonton, 10 p.m.

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