On December 1, the Vancouver Canucks will celebrate Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Roberto Luongo going into the Hockey Hall of Fame when the Florida Panthers visit Rogers Arena.
Two of those players have their numbers in the rafters, retired by the team. No other Canuck can ever wear the numbers 22 or 33 again.
The third member of that group, however, has not had his number retired. According to an announcement on Wednesday by the Canucks, Luongo’s number won’t be retired at all. Instead, he’s going into the Ring of Honour.
Ironically, this isn’t an honour for Luongo at all. Instead, it’s one last insult from an organization that has delivered a spate of them.
The Canucks initially tweeted out the announcement in the afternoon but deleted it after a wave of negative replies. When it was posted again, the replies didn’t exactly get any more positive.
Luongo has had his number retired with the Florida Panthers but the team where he had the most success won't be retiring his number. It's outrageous.
The best goaltender in franchise history should have his number retired
Luongo is the greatest goaltender in Canucks’ history. This cannot be disputed, no matter how much nostalgic love fans have for Kirk McLean. He’s the franchise leader in wins and shutouts by wide margins and is only beaten in goals against average and save percentage by Cory Schneider, who played a tenth as many games as Luongo in Vancouver.
More than that, Luongo changed everything in Vancouver. Prior to his arrival, Vancouver was a goalie graveyard, with a series of mediocre or worse goaltenders repeatedly letting down teams that had the talent elsewhere to succeed.
When Luongo came to the Canucks in the 2006-07 season, he was a revelation. He played a whopping 76 games that season, posting a .921 save percentage to single-handedly drag the Canucks back to the playoffs, where he was even better, out-duelling Marty Turco in one of the greatest playoff goaltending battles of all time.
Luongo was robbed of the Vezina that year — he finished second in Hart Trophy voting behind Sidney Crosby but somehow lost the Vezina to Martin Brodeur — but he changed the expectations that Canucks fans have for the team’s goaltending and he changed the players’ expectations of how far they could go.
“You raised the standards of our team and made everyone believe that average was never an option,” said Daniel Sedin to Luongo in his induction speech, while Henrik said, “I've never been around anyone with the same determination and willingness to do anything to get better.”
Luongo was even named captain of the Canucks for two seasons after Markus Naslund left the team, one of just seven goaltenders in NHL history to serve as captain and the first since 1948. That speaks to just how important Luongo was to the Canucks.
The Canucks built the best team in franchise history around Luongo, winning two Presidents’ Trophies and coming one game away from winning the Stanley Cup. None of that happens without Luongo.
As an all-time great goaltender, Luongo's number should be retired
It’s not just that Luongo is one of the greatest Canucks of all time — he’s one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history.
Luongo is second all-time in games played and saves made behind only Brodeur. He’s fourth all-time in wins and would be higher without playing for some dire Panthers teams during his career. He’s ninth all-time in shutouts and save percentage and sixth all-time for the most 30-win seasons in a career.
There’s a reason why Luongo was a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the best years of his career were spent in Vancouver with the Canucks.
The only players to spend a significant portion of their careers in Vancouver and go into the Hockey Hall of Fame are Luongo, the Sedins, and Pavel Bure. Three of the four have their numbers retired. It’s absurd that Luongo wouldn’t receive the same honour.
The players in the Ring of Honour are important players in the team’s history, but they’re nowhere near Luongo’s caliber. Luongo doesn’t belong with the likes of Orland Kurtenbach, Harold Snepsts, and Kirk McLean, which is no offence to the players already in the Ring of Honour.
But Luongo does belong with the Sedins, Bure, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden, and Stan Smyl. He was as important to the franchise as any of the other players with their numbers retired and it’s absurd that his number won’t join theirs in the rafters.