Roberto Luongo returns to Vancouver tonight to play the Canucks for the first time at Rogers Arena since leaving the organization in 2014.
Luongo's all time record vs the Vancouver Canucks? 0-1-1, including a 4-3 shootout loss late last season after the trade. The Canucks are the only team Luongo has never defeated.
Luongo has a very good season, helping to lead a resurgent Florida Panthers team to playoff contention. At 35 he is once again the face of the franchise. Just like he was for most of his 8 seasons in Vancouver.
With his legacy now in focus my question today is: Will Roberto Luongo one day be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame?
First off it is important to state that we are not quite sure where the bar is set for prospective goalies. Curtis Joseph sits 4th all time in wins with 454 but remains on the outside. Perhaps that is because he never won a Stanley Cup? Tom Barrasso, Mike Vernon, Andy Moog and Chris Osgood won multiple Stanley Cups and they aren't included either. Where the bar is set no one seems to quite understand, other than to say it is very high - much higher than it is for scoring forwards.
Luongo should finish this season with just over 400 career wins. His famous/infamous contract goes until 2022, though realistically he has 3 or maybe 4 top years left. He's not the Roberto Luongo of a few years ago, but he should catch Curtis Joseph on the all time wins list, and has a shot of joining Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur with 500 wins.
Florida is a much better team with Luongo, but I don't think anyone is predicting a Stanley Cup run for them anytime soon. Luongo, of course, led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011, famously/infamously losing game 7. Regardless - in this tough era reaching a Stanley Cup final should hold more merit than in the past.
Luongo has won at the international level - time and time again. Two Olympic gold medals, including most famously on home ice in 2010. He also backstopped Canada to World Championships in 2003 and 2004, and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
He never won the Vezina trophy (he was a three time finalist), though he was a finalist for the Hart trophy. He was a two time all star.
Was he the best goalie of his era? I would say it is between him and Henrik Lundqvist. Certain Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur needs to be mentioned, too, though his era started back in the mid 1990s.
From the year 2000 forward I think the only other goalies of the era I'd want on my team might be Miikka Kiprusoff, Marc Andre Fleury and Ryan Miller. Carey Price, yes, but he hasn't played as many games yet.
Given the uncertainty of where the Hall of Fame sets the bar for goaltenders, I am not certain he will get into the Hall of Fame. I think he should because his resume places him right at the top of his era along with Lundqvist.
Yet I think Lundqvist (who might also reach 500 wins and is stil playing on a stronger Stanley Cup contender) is considered to be a closer lock. The question is why?
I think it is in the different way each goalie carries himself off the ice. Lundqvist is heralded as the King of New York and of his home country of Sweden. He is Mr. GQ and just comes across as a special person. He very much comes across as a winner. Non-Lundqvist fans have always respected him.
The affable Luongo is more famous for his self-deprecating Twitter posts and silly sense of humour. With time people have come to understand him and love him, but it hasn't always been that way. Somehow his detractors didn't take him as seriously.
Personality seems to have held back the likes of Tom Barrasso from the Hall of Fame, though he was prickly and grumpy. Luongo's fun-loving lifestyle should not count against him. Yet it is his personality and his Twitter account and his infamous contract that sucks that people think of when they think of Luongo.
Somehow Roberto Luongo has never gotten the respect he deserves. I think the Hockey Hall of Fame is the rightful ending for his career, but I do not have faith in the HHOF selection committee to properly induct him.