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Panthers name Luongo special advisor to general manager

Goalie who retired in June played 11 of 19 NHL seasons with Florida, reached Stanley Cup Final in 2011 with Canucks

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

It was only a couple of months in and already Roberto Luongo was bored.

He had barely left behind his NHL career, having retired June 26 at 40 years old. But as he told on Wednesday, "There are just so many naps you can take during the day before you've reached your limit."

So when training camp began for the Florida Panthers, there was the former goalie, watching games and practices, having conversations with executives, hanging around and learning. He was even in Boston on Tuesday for the Panthers' come-from-behind shootout win against the Boston Bruins, a day before his role with the organization would become official, as a special advisor to general manager Dale Tallon.

And yet, this hadn't been the plan from the start. 

Luongo said he hadn't contemplated rejoining the organization where he spent 11 of his 19 NHL seasons, or certainly not quite so soon, though he thought it was something that eventually might appeal to him. But the Panthers approached him during the summer and, given his empty schedule and the long days stretching before him, he was happy to listen. 

Video: Goldstein analyzes 19-season career of Roberto Luongo

"My decision was made, knowing that it was time for me to step away," Luongo said. "Obviously I wanted to somehow stay involved in the future with the team, but I didn't expect it to come this early. 

"It was something that excited me right away because I was, at that point, not in a great space. Really kind of in limbo. I wasn't training to get ready for the season, so I was having a tough time with it at that point."

He wasn't missing the game, exactly. But he felt adrift. 

This made sense.

He started shadowing people in the organization, from director of player personnel Bryan McCabe, to assistant general manager Eric Joyce, to director of hockey operations and salary cap management Braden Birch.

Video: Luongo retires after 19 NHL seasons, 489 victories

"Right now it's just about learning everything," Luongo said. "The day-to-day activities is what makes it exciting, roster construction, roster decisions, what do we do, what can't we do, as far as the cap. There's kind of a big puzzle piece that you're trying to put together every day. I find that super interesting and it's something that I like doing."

For years, Luongo has played fantasy sports, of both the daily fantasy and season-long varieties. 

"I'm a huge fantasy guy, fantasy baseball, fantasy football, and I know it's a lot different, but the concept is a little bit the same, as far as managing teams, making rosters, and all that kind of stuff," he said. "It was always something I had a fascination with, that I enjoy."

Add that to nearly two decades of time around the NHL, including a trip to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, losing in Game 7 to the Bruins, and he thinks he has the tools and experience to add to the Panthers.

Luongo, who lives year-round in Parkland, Florida, is second in NHL history in games played by a goalie (1,044), third in wins (489), and ninth in shutouts (77), and is one of three goalies to have topped 1,000 games.

Video: Relive the career highlights of Roberto Luongo

He can see himself, eventually, being part of the decision-making process, being part of making the Panthers a perennial contender. They have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past three seasons and have not won a round since they made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1995-1996, their third season in the League.

"It's home," Luongo said. "I think the main thing is just to bring a little stability to the franchise and I think we're right there, about [to turn] the corner, just being a team that's there every year. You look at [the Tampa Bay Lightning], they're a contender every year now, for how many years straight? You want to be in that same type of place, where every year you're contending. People get excited about that."

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