| Date of Birth:
April 4, 1979
Place of Birth: Montreal, QC
Years on National Team:
Weight: 205 lbs
Goaltender Roberto Luongo is proof that elite players can still get noticed while playing on terrible teams. In fact, it is precisely because Luongo plays on the playoff-challenged Florida Panthers that he has become such a go-to guy for Team Canada.
With the Panthers usually calling it a season as soon as the whistle goes in their last regular season game, Luongo is available to suit up for Canada at the annual World Championships, contested at the same time as the NHL's first two playoff rounds. With a team made up of the best talent available from non-playoff teams, Canada has traditionally had trouble attracting decent players to this tournament, which remains immensely important to most European players.
However, in recent years with the NHL players now taking part in the Olympics, the chance to don the red and white of Team Canada has become more popular around the league. Luongo has answered his country's call for three consecutive years and has two gold medals (2003, 2004) and a silver (2005) to show for his performances.
His steady play at the 2003 and 2004 tournaments impressed Team Canada brass enough that Luongo was called upon to take part on Canada's World Cup of Hockey team in 2004. Although he served as backup to Martin Brodeur in the tournament, he kept himself ready just in case. That turned out to be an especially good thing when Brodeur was forced out of action with an injury prior to the final game against the Czech Republic. Luongo calmly stepped in and made 34 of 37 saves to lead Canada to a thrilling 4-3 overtime win.
Acquired from the New York Islanders, along with forward Olli Jokinen, in a one-sided June 2000 trade for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha, Luongo is now considered as one of the NHL's top netminders despite the fact he has yet to hit the .500 won-loss mark in a season. During the 2003-04 season, Luongo's porous Florida defence allowed 2,475 shots with him in nets. Amazingly, he stopped 2,303 of them, breaking Felix Potvin's season saves' record. Battle-tested in both the NHL and international hockey, Luongo is a solid player to have on board in Turin.
February 17: 'Special time' for Luongo
2006 Hockey Coverage