Roberto Luongo says it just “makes sense” for him to return to the Florida Panthers.
The Vancouver Canucks goaltender, who is awaiting a trade after losing his No. 1 job to Cory Schneider, skated near his off-season home on Tuesday and made it clear during an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel that his preference was to return to the Panthers.
“[Florida] makes sense for myself, for my career and my family,” Luongo told the paper. “That being said, there’s obvious other options as well. This is a preferred location for obvious reasons but I’m not shutting the door on other possibilities if it comes up.”
Luongo spent five seasons in Florida between 2001 and 2006, when he was dealt to Vancouver. He and his wife return to the area every summer with their young children.
The 33-year-old has 10 years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of US$5.33-million and holds a no-trade clause.
Luongo posted a 31-14-8 record last season with a .919 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average. He’s dealt with speculation about his future in Vancouver for the past two seasons and it reached a new pitch when Schneider took over the No. 1 job during a first-round playoff loss to Los Angeles in the spring.
Luongo, who backstopped Canada to gold at the Vancouver Olympics, maintains that he wants to be in a position where he gets the majority of starts. The veteran is willing to be patient while the Canucks look for a trade that makes sense.
“You’re dealt different situations in life,” said Luongo. “You’ve got to handle them the right way. I don’t know what’s going to happen this year. The only thing I could do is work hard and have a positive attitude.
“At the end of the day, I’m sure everything is going to work out.”