Roberto-Luongo Arena unveiled
Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo received a special honour this past weekend in the east end Montreal borough of St. Leonard, where he grew up.
The Canucks captain was on hand to inaugurate the Roberto-Luongo arena during a ceremony with the mayor of St. Leonard Michel Bissonnet and hundreds of fans.
"It is an honour, but to see my name on the arena is a bit surreal right now," Luongo said during the ceremony.
Formally the Hébert arena, the recently unveiled Roberto-Luongo arena is meant to pay tribute to the Quebec product who worked his way through the junior hockey ranks to the NHL, yet never forgot where he came from.
Luongo is still active in the community in St. Leonard and his parents Antonio and Lina are still proud residence of the borough, which is home to over 70,000 residents.
It’s been quite a while since Luongo strapped on his pads in his home town, but he still remembers the first time and what a struggle it was to get his mother to agree to it.
She wanted her boy to improve his skating and become a goal-scoring forward. Roberto wanted that too and he told members of the press at the ceremony that he did in fact score quite a few goals as a forward.
There was always something calling him to the net and when he first stepped between the pipes as an 11-year-old in the arena that now bares his name, Luongo recorded a shutout.
Some things are just meant to be and Luongo tending twine is apparently one of them.
The Canucks captain played for the Val d’Or Foreurs and Acadie-Bathurst Titan over four seasons in the QMJHL, finishing with an 85-70-9 record in 180 games played with 10 shutouts, a .897 save percentage and a 3.30 GAA.
Luongo also won 38 of 56 playoff contests over four seasons; he was awarded the Mike Bossy Trophy, given to the player deemed to be the best professional prospect, in his third season and left the QMJHL with two records, one for most shutouts in a season (7 in 1997-98) and the other a Val d’Or franchise record for most wins in a season (32 in 1996-97).
Luongo is the second goalie out of St. Leonard to have an arena renamed for him. In 2000 New Jersey Devils netminder Martin Brodeur was honoured with the Martin-Brodeur arena and the complex.