LBC's All-Time Florida Panthers Roster Countdown - #1: Roberto Luongo
Summer-long countdown concludes with the all-time franchise leader in goaltending wins.
Welcome to the 99th and final edition of the LBC exclusive all-time Florida Panthers player ranking breakdown. What say we make a date and have at this again sometime, say....five years? If you need to know the details, click here for a detailed explanation.
Yesterday, we took a look back at the series, with a world record (needs a bit of verification) 112,600 word article touching on the first 288 players featured. Today, we'll reflect on our number one Panther (statistically speaking), a man they call Bobby Lou.
1. Roberto Luongo
Luongo is a 6'3" goaltender from Montreal, Quebec. He was selected in the first round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders with the fourth overall pick after two seasons with the QMJHL's Val d'Or Foreurs (38-32-6). He spent one more season with Val d'Or Foreurs (27-20-5, .899) before spending the 1998-99 campaign with the rival QMJHL club, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (14-7-1, .903).
Luongo split his 1999-00 season between the Islanders (7-14-1, .904) and their AHL affiliiate, the Lowell Lock Monsters (10-12-4, .908). The Islanders didn't see Luongo fitting into their long term plans, trading him, along with Olli Jokinen, to the Panthers after the season for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. (more than any other trade in Panthers history, I think this one was a win).
In 2000-01, Luongo started out his Panthers career with a thud, compliling an 0-7-2 record through his first 10 games and a 1-11-2 record before recording his second win. He appeared in 47 games for Florida, registering five shutouts. Most notable among them a 35-save masterpiece in a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on February 9th. He ended up with a 12-24-7 record and an NHL seventh-ranking .920 save percentage and a 2.44 GAA. He closed Florida's season with a 25-save shutout over the New York Rangers, 3-0.
2001-02 would see Luongo rank 10th in the NHL with a .915 save percentage. In 58 games, he posted a 16-33-4 record with four shutouts and a 2.77 goals allowed per 60 minutes. On November 17th, he stopped 44-of-45 shots, allowing only the game winner with a minute left in overtime in a 1-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Luongo continued to increase his win total in 2002-03, going 20-34-7 in 65 contests. He ranked seventh in the NHL with a then career high six shutouts. He also had an NHL ninth-best .918 save percentage, finishing with a GAA of 2.71. On January 15th, he blanked the Boston Bruins on 27 shots as the Panthers put three on the board. In his next start on January 18th, he posted his second consecutive shutout, making 35 saves in a 3-0 decision against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In 2003-04. Luongo made the all-star roster for the first time (he later made two more all-star appearances with the Canucks). He led the NHL with 2,475 shots faced and with 2,303 saves, leaving him with a league third best save percentage of .931, also his career highwater mark. He ranked fifth in the NHL with seven shutouts, posting a 25-33-14 record with a better than average 2.43 goals against average. He also set an record in the advanced statistical category, "point shares," the stat on which this list was developed, with a final count of 20.9. In a preview of the season to come, Luongo started out the season with a 2-3-2 record, even while stopping 220-of-231 shots for an otherworldly save percentage of .952. Between February 20th and March 3rd, Bobby Lou posted four shutouts. During the span, he went 218-of-225 (.969) with a 4-1-2 record.
When the 2004-05 season never started, Luongo sat out, not appearing on any club. When play resumed in 2005-06, he rejoined the Panthers as the starter between the pipes. He led all NHL goalies with 75 games played, not leaving much for backup Jamie McLennan. He went 35-30-9, leading the NHL with 30 losses (you know you play a lot when you lead the league in losses and still have an overall winning point percentage). His win total was good for seventh in the NHL. He also led the NHL with 2,488 shots against, 2,275 saves, and (unfortunately) 213 goals allowed, good for a league ninth-ranking .914 save percentage. He also posted four shutouts and a GAA of 2.97. Luongo started out the season with consecutive shutouts over the Atlanta Thrashers, 2-0 on 34 shots, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, also 2-0, on 27 shots. On December 18th, he earned a hard fought victory over the Washington Capitals, 3-2, with a gutsy 53-of-55 saves.
After the 2005-06 season, the Panthers traded him to the Vancouver Canucks with Lukas Krajicek and a sixth round pick (Sergei Shirokov) for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen, and Alex Auld. Over seven seasons with the 'Nucks, Luongo has gone 32-29 in the playoffs, yet somehow developed a reputation as a choke artist. On balance, Vancouver has been better with him in net than without. Nevertheless, the media and fan base are running him out of town on a rail. He is the all-time Canucks leader in wins, with a 224-115-41 record. He has a post-Florida GAA of 2.35 and a save percentage of .920, both second all time only to probable replacement Cory Schneider. Rumor has run amuck in the blogosphere, the social media, and mainstream media that Bobby Lou is Sunrise bound. This mystery has been put on hold, however, by the horrible state of the NHL labor situation. I guess we'll have to wait and see where he ends up, but in my opinion, even if Luongo's not to end up with the Panthers, his Vancouver career is most assuredly over. Despite his extended time in Sunrise, the YouTube section on Bobby Lou has proven mostly Panther free, so here's an extended highlight reel of his time in Vancouver.
Luongo Highlights (via SassySasquatch6)
All-Time Statline: Five seasons, 317 games played (all-time leader), 17,842 minutes (all-time leader), 108-154-41 record, 26 shutouts (all-time leader), 9,960 shots faced, 9,164 saves made, 796 goals allowed, .920 save percentage, 2.68 GAA, 51.4 APS.
Thanks for sticking around through the summer, this has been a blast. Keep the dial tuned right here for all your Florida Panthers news.