Should the Canucks retire Roberto Luongo's jersey one day?

Jan 20 2017, 11:01 pm

With Roberto Luongo in town to face his old team today, a bit of an odd debate has sprung up on Vancouver sports radio.

Now, I’m not faulting TSN 1040 for asking the question (even though everyone knows the big topic of discussion today is the Viking Clap for Henrik). But it strikes me as rhetorical.

Should Luongo have his jersey retired in Vancouver when his career is over? Of course he should!

There are some people that may not want his jersey retired because he didn’t a Stanley Cup or because he ultimately requested a trade out of town. To that, I point you to Markus Naslund and Pavel Bure.

There have been suggestions that Luongo belongs in the Ring of Honour rather than having his number retired, but that’s laughable. Players that are borderline for jersey retirement will see Ring of Honour as a slight, so going down that road just invites a PR nightmare.

No, Luongo’s number belongs up in the rafters next to Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden, Stan Smyl, and eventually, Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

Luongo played 448 games with Vancouver, second only to Kirk McLean by a Canucks goaltender. He’s number one in wins though, amassing a 252-137-50 record. His all-time franchise save percentage is sparkling at .919, and it’s not bad in the playoffs (.916) either.

Luongo is maligned for his playoff performances, but he’s the only goalie in franchise history (minimum four games played) to have a winning record in the postseason.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Luongo had the greatest run of success of any goalie in franchise history. He’s also a major reason for the franchise’s ‘golden era’, for which he backstopped the team.

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Some people seem to take issue with the amount of numbers the Canucks will have retired given the franchise has never won a Stanley Cup. Every franchise is different, but if you look around the league, they’re relatively in line with the league standard.

The Canucks currently have four jerseys retired. That’s three fewer than the Buffalo Sabres, who entered the league at the same time and have zero championships. Their list also includes four players who haven’t been inducted to the Hall of Fame.

The St. Louis Blues are in a similar spot, having been around three years longer than the Canucks, and have six numbers retired.

The Washington Capitals entered the league four years after Vancouver, and have four jerseys retired.

New Jersey has retired Ken Daneyko’s number. Ray Bourque played one full season for Colorado and has his number retired by the Avs.

So safe to say, you need not get embarrassed about having seven jerseys retired without a Stanley Cup, particularly when four of them will be Hall of Famers.

Roberto Luongo is likely going to finish his career third on the all-time NHL wins list, behind only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. Unless the Sedins beat him there, he’s going to be the second player to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame primarily because of his play with the Canucks.

So yeah, adding Luongo and the Sedins to the rafters is a lot, but guess what? They’re legends. They deserve it.

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