Vancouver Canucks legend Roberto Luongo may be contemplating retirement, but if he doesn’t hang up his skates, he won’t return to the Panthers as a starter next season.
You might be asking yourself, “what does a goalie the Vancouver Canucks traded five years ago have to do with the team now?” The answer is, a lot; remember, we’re still paying this guy, too. If Roberto Luongo chooses to retire before his contract finishes, the Canucks will be put in a tough situation. Allow me to explain.
As The Canuck Way’s very own Oliver Thompson detailed in his March 2019 article “What happens if Roberto Luongo retires”, the Canucks could get hit with a painful cap recapture penalty if Luongo calls it quits before his contract expires. As explained in the article, cap recapture was implemented as a punishment for teams who dish out lengthy deals to players that retire before their deal is finished.
That’s exactly what many are worried Luongo would do this offseason, retire. While retirement is still a possibility for Luongo, who turns 41 next April, the dollar amount of the penalty that the Canucks will be hit with will be lower the longer Luongo plays.
So while folks such as Elliotte Friedman believe that retirement may be what Luongo decides upon ahead of next season, Florida Panthers reporter George Richards went on Sportsnet 650 on Monday to discuss what the plan for Luongo would be, if he were to play with the Panthers next season.
And it ain’t pretty. The Panthers are frontrunners to land goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency, and Richards says that Luongo is okay with returning to the team as a backup. That being said, Richards also said that he isn’t even certain if Luongo will come back next year. Luongo said the following to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun later in March:
"“It’s a bit of a tough situation…I still love to play the game. We’ll see where it goes, I haven’t really made a decision one way or another. It’s going to be important once the season is over to talk to Dale and management and coaches and see what the plans for the future are. And hopefully they involve me somewhere. I understand I’m not 30 years old anymore and I can’t take on a 50-, 60-game workload.”"
Don’t be fooled, Luongo is still a solid netminder. Now former Panthers head coach Bob Boughner was widely criticized for his overuse and reliance on a 39-year-old goaltender last season. Luongo’s body just couldn’t keep up with the workload. If Luongo is to back up, and Bobrovsky does get signed, the Panthers will have to move James Reimer, who is currently under contract for the next two seasons, with an annual average salary of $3.4 million.
All we can hope for as Canucks fans is that Luongo decides to give it at least one more year, or that the Canucks’ legend decided to do his old club a favour by electing to go on long time injured reserve. What do you think Canucks fans? What will Luongo decide to do this October? Let me know in the comments section below!