Luongo’s bitter-suite return

When I got the invite to represent Canucks Hockey Blog (together with fellow CHBer, Chris Golden)  at the #SocialSuite for Thursday’s game against the Panthers, I was elated about being asked to go at all; this included having the opportunity to meet people I hadn’t met, catch up with ones I hadn’t seen in a long time, and share the experience with some of my closest friends. The excitement increased when it dawned on me that this would be Roberto Luongo’s first game back at Rogers Arena since being traded last March.

Luongo salutes the crowd after being honoured in Rogers Arena (photo: Jonathan Hayward)

It’s hard to prepare yourself for the kind of night Thursday’s Luongo Night was. You know it’s going to be raw and emotional, seeing your former number one goaltender between the pipes at the other end of the rink; you know it’s going to be raw and emotional when the tribute video comes on and you’re reminded of all the good times your team had with him; you know it’s going to be raw and emotional every time Rogers Arena busts out into a chorus of Luuuuu’s every time he makes a save, on your own team; you know it’s going to be raw and emotional when the buzzer goes and the game is over, for better or for worse, and off he goes, down the tunnel, to the other team’s dressing room.

Until next time.

But nothing can prepare you for when you’re actually there, witnessing it all in person and you see how choked up he gets during the tribute video; even though things may not have ended ideally here in Vancouver, some of the best years in his career (subjective, sure) came in a Vancouver Canucks uniform.  Seeing it all flash before his eyes has got to be pretty emotional for him, too, and that was pretty evident.  See for yourself:


Right in the feels. I’ve looped this so many times alone.

On a night like Thursday, it was really hard pressed to care about the loss. The Canucks played so terribly, despite letting one past Luongo early in the game (where have we head this narrative before), and much like the team’s now-President, Trevor Linden’s last NHL game way back on April 5, 2008 when the Calgary Flames trounced the Canucks by a 7-1 score, the game’s outcome was the furthest thing from (most of) our minds.  I know that two points are still two points, but it’s not every day your former number one goaltender plays his first game back in the arena he called home for 8 years.  (For starters, Canucks goaltenders don’t usually call Vancouver home for that long.) The Canucks played like garbage and somehow made a 5-on-3 power play in their favour look magical for the Florida Panthers so, yeah, Luongo deserved this win.

It was special getting to share this experience with a large group of people — other fans and bloggers alike — who appreciated Luongo on a similar level.   It was special getting to mingle with people so many of us might not get to mingle with on a regular basis and talk about the team that united us all together into the same room; we wouldn’t have had that experience together if we weren’t passionate or didn’t talk about the team that makes us rip our hair out sometimes, or give us a sense of elation other times; even though the guys in blue and green lost, it was hard not being happy for the goalie at the other end of the rink, because so rarely did we show him the appreciation he deserved when he was here.

On behalf of Canucks Hockey Blog, I’d like to thank The Vancouver Canucks’ crew for hosting such a fun event and having us; it was an honour to be a guest at such an incredibly special evening.

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