Roberto Luongo is going home, where his heart is.
The Vancouver Canucks have traded their starting goaltender of eight years to the Florida Panthers, where Luongo played from 2000 to 2006. Since then, Luongo has been a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and was nominated for two Vezina Trophies (2007, 2011) and one Hart Trophy (2007) with the team. He led the Canucks to a Stanley Cup Final in 2011 and won two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada, in 2010 and 2014.
Luongo first confirmed the news himself to TSN’s James Duthie.
“I was not expecting it,” Luongo told reporters on Tuesday. He was preparing to be tonight’s starter in Phoenix, where the Canucks will take on the Coyotes.
“Go figure right? I’m happy for myself and my family and a little bit sad to be leaving Vancouver.
“All in all it was a great run. There was a lot of stuff that happened in between but I have nothing but good things to say about the fans that were really supportive especially towards the end. This organization brought my game to another level. It’s all positive stuff.”
Reports say Florida goaltender Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias are coming Vancouver’s way from the Panthers.
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) March 4, 2014
Roberto Luongo confirms he has been traded to Florida. Signing papers right now. #Tradecentre
— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) March 4, 2014
Luongo has been the center of trade rumours since June, 2012, when the Canucks started Cory Schneider over him in that year’s quarterfinal playoff series.
The Canucks traded Schneider to New Jersey at last year’s NHL Draft, after Luongo had been very public about his desire to be traded out of Vancouver and after Schneider was his heir apparent on Canada’s west coast.
On Sunday, Luongo sat for Vancouver’s Heritage Classic, with head coach John Tortorella instead playing backup (now starter, it would seem) Eddie Lack.
Luongo has eight years left on a contract that pays him an average of $5,333,333 per season.
He will also now be teammates with Tim Thomas, who Luongo sparred with from the opposite crease during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, when Thomas was with the Boston Bruins.
On Tuesday morning, Luongo spoke to reporters from the Canucks dressing room in Phoenix, where he was still preparing to be the starter for tonight’s game against the Coyotes.
Here’s a look at a guy who has no idea what’s about to happen: