Former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo jumped on the radio Wednesday morning in his hometown of Montreal and expressed a bit of disbelief as it relates to his upcoming Hockey Hall of Fame induction.
“It doesn’t sound real,” Luongo told Montreal-690 hosts Sean Campbell and Mitch Gallo. “I don’t think I’ve quite wrapped my head around it yet to be honest with you, or the magnitude of it at least. Everybody around me is crazy, excited and happy, as am I of course, but I don’t feel like the magnitude of it has quite hit me yet.”
He shouldn’t be surprised, even with the fact that he made it in on his first ballot. In a career that ended with the 2018-’19 season, ‘Lu’ won more National Hockey League games (489) than all but three goalies in history, Marc-Andre Fleury (520 and active), Patrick Roy (551) and Martin Brodeur (691).
All four are French Canadian.
“When I first got into hockey my favourite team was the Edmonton OIlers and Grant Fuhr my favourite goalie,” Luongo said. “Wayne Gretzky, all of those guys were part of the dynasty there, so that’s the team I loved growing up. But as I got a little bit older and really got into goaltending that’s when I turned to Patrick more and his style of play, and Marty obviously lived a few streets away from me, which is another unbelievable thing. Those are the guys I turned to a little bit later in my career once I began learning about goaltending, but in the early days it was all about Grant Fuhr and the Edmonton Oilers.”
Luongo’s career save percentage, at .919, is higher than all of the aforementioned. He played the second most games (1,044) in history behind Brodeur (1,266) and he finished with a career 2.52 goals against average. A coincidental statistic, 252 of his wins came with the Vancouver Canucks. All but seven (New York Islanders) of the rest came with the Florida Panthers.
Close, but no Stanley Cups, which didn’t matter, nor should it in this case. Cup wins usually help a player get in the Hockey Hall of Fame if he’s on the bubble. Luongo was way above the bubble.
He did win two Olympic Gold Medals for Canada, one as the starter in 2010 in Vancouver, and another as the back-up to Carey Price four years later in Sochi, Russia.
The huge bonus; getting inducted with his Vancouver Canucks teammates Daniel and Henrik Sedin, also first-ballot honourees.
“They were unbelievable,” Luongo stated. “I got to see them in practice everyday and compete against them in practice and that was even more special for me. The thing that made them so special … well, first of all, they knew where each other were on the ice at all times without having to look, they had preset plays in their minds where he knew he would be there, put the puck there and he’d be there. That made them special … I really think they revolutionized the game with their passing.
“The fact that I get to go in with the Sedins makes it so much more exciting and fun for myself, to get to live that moment with them, so it’s been a great couple days.”