Roberto Luongo was robbed of several accolades during his NHL career. He ought to have won the Vezina in 2004 but somehow finished third behind Martin Brodeur and Miikka Kiprusoff. He probably should have won the Vezina again in 2007 but again finished behind Brodeur despite finished second in Hart Trophy voting ahead of Brodeur.
Even in terms of career achievements, Luongo is second-best in NHL history. Luongo is second behind Brodeur for the most games played by a goaltender and most career saves. For the most saves in a single season, two Luongo seasons are behind two Gump Worsley seasons from the Original Six era.
There’s one record, however, where Luongo stands on his own: the most games played without scoring a goal.
Luongo tallied 23 assists in his 1044-game career but never once scored a goal — an NHL record.
That’s because Brodeur, the one goaltender to play more games than Luongo, scored two goals in his NHL career during the regular season and added another in the playoffs. That said, “scored” is pushing it for two of those goals. Brodeur only shot the puck into the net on one of those goals — the one in the playoffs — and the other two were own goals, with the opposing team accidentally putting the puck into their own empty net.
Unlike in soccer, there’s no category for own goals, so the goal has to be credited to the player who touched the puck last. On two occasions, that player was Brodeur.
Luongo’s 1044 games without a goal is, of course, an NHL record. Obviously, most goaltenders go their entire careers without scoring a goal, as goalie goals are exceptionally rare. Only 13 goaltenders have scored a goal in NHL history and just eight of them did with an actual shot on net rather than an own goal.
Perhaps his lack of goalscoring in his career is why Luongo was so delighted when he scored a pair of goals as a forward during the Hockey Hall of Fame Legends game last year.
It certainly helps that Luongo was a goaltender. The record for the most games played by a skater in the NHL without scoring a goal is held by Steven Halko, a defensive defenceman who spent the entirety of his brief NHL career with the Carolina Hurricanes. He played 155 games without scoring — 889 fewer than Luongo.
Halko, for his part, isn’t the least bit ashamed of his ignominious record. As he put it in a profile from Canes Country, “I knew what I wasn’t good at.”
Luongo is at risk of losing his record. Marc-Andre Fleury has played 985 career games in the regular season — 59 games behind Luongo. The 38-year-old goaltender played 46 games for the Minnesota Wild last season and 56 games the season before that.
Fleury is unlikely to play 59 games next season as the backup behind Filip Gustavsson but he could pass Luongo in career games played if he remains a backup for another season or two after this next one. And, unless he scores a goal in one of those games, he’ll be the new record holder for the most games played in the NHL without scoring a goal.
Clearly, the answer to this issue is for the Canucks to let Fleury score an empty-net goal some time next season so Luongo’s legacy is safe.