Panthers' Luongo retires after 19 seasons

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One of hockey's greatest netminders has decided to hang up his skates.

Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo announced his retirement via social media Wednesday after 19 NHL seasons.

"This is one of the toughest decisions I've faced in my life and it took me a long time to make it," Luongo wrote in an open letter to the fans on the Panthers' website. "After thinking about it a lot over the past two months and listening to my body, I made up my mind. It just feels like the right time for me to step away from the game."

The 40-year-old finishes his career ranked second all time among goalies with 1,044 games played, third in wins with 489, and ninth in shutouts with 77.

The Montreal native never captured the Stanley Cup, but was a five-time All-Star and had tremendous success on the international stage. Luongo captured back-to-back gold medals at the World Championship in 2003 and 2004 and a pair of Olympic gold medals at the 2010 Games in Vancouver and the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Luongo still had three years remaining on the 12-year, $64-million contract he signed with the Vancouver Canucks ahead of the 2010-11 season. The Canucks will get hit with a cap recapture penalty of slightly more than $3 million in each of the next three seasons, and the Panthers' recapture penalty will be slightly more than $1 million over the same period of time, according to CapFriendly.

The penalty leaves the Canucks with a projected cap hit of $66 million and a projected $15.5 million in cap space. The Panthers now have a projected cap hit of $57.6 million and $23.9 million in projected cap space. The penalty, part of the latest CBA, was designed to punish teams that signed cap-circumventing contracts.

James Reimer is now the only goaltender under contract for next season, but the team has been linked to Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Luongo was selected by the New York Islanders with the fourth overall pick of the 1997 NHL Draft and spent one season on Long Island, eight with the Canucks, and 11 with the Panthers.

Panthers' Luongo retires after 19 seasons
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