The Vancouver Canucks net minder Roberto Luongo has been marked as one of the best goalies of the 2000s. Luongo has stopped just as many pucks as any other goalie in the league over the past 10 years, but he is nothing more than great numbers in the history books. At age 31 Luongo was supposed to be the best goalie of the 2000s hands down since he burst onto the scene in the 2000-2001 season with the Panthers.
Luongo has been able to post excellent numbers with the Panthers and the Canucks, with a career 2.57 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Along with those very impressive stats Luongo has 270 wins and hasn’t had fewer than 35 wins in a full season since 2005-2006 season, including a 35 wins season with the Panthers. Over his career he has also notched 51 shutouts. Luongo has been to four all-star games in 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009. He won the Mark Messier leadership award in 2007 and was the captain of the Canucks from 2008-2010. Luongo’s most impressive achievement was in the 2010 Olympics when he took over the reins from Martin Brodeur as team Canada’s starter and went on to win the gold medal. Luongo also had great success in the World Junior tournaments and World Championships, winning several gold medals and best goalie awards.
All of those stats are very impressive, but he is still missing two very important pieces to being the league’s top goaltender of the 2000s. The first piece of hardware he has yet to acquire is the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. Since Luongo first played in 1999 Olaf Kolzig, Dominik Hasek, Jose Theodore, Martin Brodeur (four times), Miikka Kiprusoff, Tim Thomas, and Ryan Miller have won the award. Luongo was nominated for the Vezina Trophy in 2004 and 2007, where he was also nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy, but no one remembers the player who almost won. Luongo is also missing the one piece of hardware that all NHL players are striving for, the Stanley Cup. No one can blame Luongo for not going far with the lowly Florida Panthers, but when he arrived in Vancouver fans and analysts all said that the Canucks were in line to win the Cup. Unfortunately, the Canucks have not even been able to make it past the second round.
Without the Vezina Trophy and no Stanley Cups will Roberto Luongo be a hall of fame goaltender solely based on his numbers and success on the world stage, even if he never proved to be “the best” in any particular NHL season? Is he destined to be an afterthought as a good goalie, but never more than that?