When a jersey is retired, it showcases the player’s legendary status in the franchise. For the Vancouver Canucks, six banners hang in the rafters at Rogers Arena.
Pavel Bure’s number 10, Stan Smyl’s number 12, Trevor Linden’s number 16, Markus Naslund’s number 19, Daniel Sedin’s number 22 and Henrik Sedin’s number 33 are the numbers retired by the Canucks. They are immortalized in Canucks history and no Canuck can wear them ever again.
On Monday afternoon, it was announced that the Sedins and Roberto Luongo were going into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022. It was great to see three players who were vital to the Canucks’ glory years go into the hall together. I got a little teary-eyed hearing the news that the three players that made me love hockey and the Canucks were going into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
After the announcement, some fans were calling for Luongo’s number one to be retired.
You know what? They should.
Luongo is the best goaltender the Canucks have ever had, plain and simple. For starters, he holds numerous Canucks records.
Luongo is the franchise’s all-time leader in wins with 252 and shutouts with 38. He also holds the Canucks record for most wins in a season with 47 in the 2006-07 season and the lowest goals against average in a season with 2.11 in 2010-11.
He also is fourth all-time in wins with 489. He is only behind Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Marc-Andre Fleury. Brodeur and Roy are Hockey Hall of Famers and Fleury will likely be one in the future.
Sure, there were times when Luongo looked very poor in playoff games. But in the playoffs, he also made some big saves. Those include stopping Patrick Sharp in overtime in game seven against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011 and robbing Ryan Smyth in game six against the Los Angeles Kings in 2010. The one against Sharp stands out. Without that save, Canucks history would have been very different and much darker.
You might argue that Kirk McLean is more deserving. Yes, McLean holds some franchise records as well such as games played with 516 and playoff wins with 34. But statistically, Luongo is the better goaltender.
Some fans may not like the way Luongo’s time ended in Vancouver. He requested a trade in 2012 after the Canucks made Cory Schneider the number one goaltender. After not starting the Heritage Classic in 2014 due to former head coach John Tortorella starting Eddie Lack, Luongo was traded back to Florida. There was also the cap recapture penalty from Luongo’s contract that took effect after he retired in 2019. Fortunately, it is over this year. Blame the league for that one.
Luongo left on a sour note but remember Bure did too. He eventually got his jersey retired.
You might also argue that Luongo sees himself as a Panther first. He did spend more seasons down in Sunrise than in Vancouver and is now a Special Advisor to the General Manager with the Panthers. He also got his number one retired by the Panthers in March of 2020. That was the first retired number in Panthers’ history.
But in his eight seasons in Vancouver, Luongo played his best hockey and as mentioned broke numerous franchise records.
There is also the argument that it is special that a player’s number gets retired by two teams because he is one of the league’s all-time greats.
Only nine players have had their numbers retired by two teams including Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Roy, Ray Bourque and Scott Niedermayer.
Is Luongo up there with those names? Probably not. But as mentioned he is going into the Hockey Hall of Fame and is fourth all-time in the NHL in wins. Those nine players are also in the hall.
Also, Bourque only played two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. Yes, he won the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche and ended his illustrious career there but he only two played two seasons in Colorado. Bourque is best remembered as a Boston Bruin. He played a part in the Avs’ second Stanley Cup but is he a legend after playing two seasons there? I don’t think so.
If Bourque can get his number retired in Colorado for just two seasons, why can’t Luongo get his number retired in Vancouver after playing eight here? It’s a strange comparison I know but I hope you get the point here.
Luongo is also the only goaltender in Canucks history to win a major award. He and Schneider won the Jennings trophy in 2011 for the lowest GAA in the league. It is also mind-boggling that he did not win the Vezina in 2006-07.
Sooner or later, Luongo’s number one needs to hang from the rafters at Rogers Arena.
Well, that is my argument for Luongo’s number being retired by the Canucks? Do you agree or not? Let me know in the comments below, in the Facebook comments or on Twitter.