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Return to Panthers revitalizing, perspective-changing for Luongo

Return to Panthers revitalizing, perspective-changing for Luongo
return-to-panthers-revitalizing-perspective-changing-for-luongo
Tuukka Rask Kids Jersey CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- It is a glorious, sunny day in the twilight of Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo's career. Or maybe "twilight" isn't quite the right term currently for of one of the game's most successful, highest-profile netminders. Maybe "renaissance" is a better term for this day, this moment, this player. Ellen Ransford, a cancer survivor from Vancouver, is at the team's practice facility in Coral Springs, fairly glowing with anticipation at spending time with her hero as part of a vacation she began planning the minute Luongo was traded back to the Panthers at the trade deadline by the Vancouver Canucks almost two years ago. "He's amazing," Ransford said. "I've always had his back and he's always had mine." On this day, the Panthers' locker room is positively chock-a-block -- for them, at least -- with reporters, including an ESPN camera crew and anchor Linda Cohn, spending time with ageless star Jaromir Jagr. Dan Girardi White Jersey As Luongo heads out the back door of the practice facility, a box of knee-hockey sticks for his son's birthday party in hand, it stretches the boundaries of fancy to imagine these many threads could have been wound together in the manner they have: Luongo back in Florida; the Panthers on the rise, sitting in first place in the Atlantic Division after a franchise-best 12-game winning streak; the future of a team, whose future has seemingly always been in question, somehow more secure. It's a dynamic that brings into sharp focus the sharp line that separates the beginning of the end from the hot-burning coals driving the game's most competitive players, no matter what the calendar might suggest. Luongo began the week with a .927 save percentage, having played in 36 of the Panthers' first 46 games. Part of Luongo's persona, his legacy to this point, is taking the Canucks to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in 2011. The long view is that getting to that point is a journey so few travel and it should be appreciated, but going that far and not taking the final step remains a burr that will itch Luongo until he gets a chance to erase the memory. I recently sat down and discussed this topic and more with him. So, let's start with the moment you were dealt back to the Panthers by the Canucks two years ago. Roberto Luongo: We were in Phoenix, actually. We were playing the Coyotes. It was the first game after the Heritage Classic. And I was actually starting that game. Austin Romine Yankees Jersey As opposed to the Heritage Classic, where you were benched? Luongo: Exactly. I was actually in my pregame nap in the afternoon and I got a call from [then-Vancouver GM] Mike Gillis, which was odd. He just told me that I'd been traded to Florida. It was kind of a bit of a shocking moment that I really wasn't expecting at all. Due to the fact that I was playing that night and getting ready, I didn't think anything was going to happen. I think it was, like, overwhelming when I heard it. I wasn't processing it. I was trying to get traded for over a year and a half and nothing was happening. And then out of the blue you get a call that you were traded, in fact, and it was to Florida. It was like, I really didn't know how to be or how to feel. It was weird. The deal was, in many ways, a homecoming, given that your wife is from South Florida and you met during your first stint as a Panther. http://www.authenticlakersstore.com/authentic-10-steve-nash-jersey.html Luongo: When I first got traded here from the Islanders, a bunch of players always used to go eat at this Italian restaurant right by the arena. And so they took me there a few times. The owner happened to be my [future] wife's dad. I'd always see this girl in the restaurant and I never knew who it was, and then happened to find out it was his daughter and that's how we met. Which all sounds very Old World.

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