“Bieksa’s going to pinch.”
That’s what CBC Sports announcer Jim Hughson says at the 3:52 mark of the third period in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinal between the Blackhawks and Canucks, played May 11, 2009, at the United Center. Eight seconds later, after Bieksa’s pinch failed, Patrick Kane buried a backhander past Roberto Luongo, giving the Blackhawks a 7-5 lead and, ultimately, a series victory.
As the crowd celebrated Kane’s hat trick goal, with the United Center at its auditory maximum, the CBC cameras zoomed in twice to capture this thousand-mile stare from the Vancouver netminder:
Luongo announced his retirement Wednesday, capping a career that started way back in the 20th century. For Blackhawks fans, Luongo’s most known for his time with Vancouver in the late 2000s and early 2010s. This Blackhawks era has failed to generate a more intense rivalry than the one cultivated by three straight playoff matchups between those two franchises. While Luongo was never directly involved in any of the melees that channeled our most barbaric instincts, he — much like the Sedin twins — was a victim of guilt by association. Because he was one of the standouts on the Blackhawks most loathsome enemies, Luongo was another target for derision.
He was a worthy foe, too. Though likely never the best goalie in the league at any point in his career, Luongo was a two-time all-star and won the Jennings Trophy during a dominant 2010-11 season that ended with the Canucks just one win shy of the Stanley Cup.
It’s a testament to how to talented those Blackhawks teams were, the way they pulverized Luongo in the postseason. Luongo won 489 regular-season games in his career, with a 2.52 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. For Luongo’s postseason career, he was at 2.49 and .918, respectively.
In three playoff series against Chicago, though, this is what the Blackhawks did to him:
2009 Western Conference semifinals: 2-4 record, .879 SA%, 3.51 GAA
2010 Western Conference semifinals: 2-4 record, .897 SA%, 3.52 GAA
2011 Western Conference quarterfinals: 4-3 record, .903 SA%, 2.97 GAA
So many of the Vancouver villains from that time were never rehabilitated. Alex Burrows remained a detestable figure in Chicago. Shane O’Brien’s name comes to mind with an annoyance. Ryan Kesler changed addresses but remained equally as obnoxious in Anaheim. But Luongo’s story is a different one because of one major difference between he and the rest of his teammates:
Luongo’s twitter account
It started anonymously, under the handle @strombone1 — and no one knew it was Luongo pulling the strings. Reddit threads from 2012 started suggesting the account wasn’t a random internet troll, though. Canadian media outlets reported on strange coincidences with the account in that same year. In early 2013, Luongo confirmed he was the mastermind.
What’s followed since then is a steady stream of hilarious content, often at Luongo’s own expense. Six years later, he hasn’t lost his touch:
Want a Scott Foster reference? Luongo has a Scott Foster reference:
Scott Foster stops that while filing his client’s tax returns https://t.co/DwmMP1lrzi— Strombone (@strombone1) April 1, 2018
Cubs fans would appreciate this one:
Man even Bartman got a ring before I did smh https://t.co/qTQKGgU3H4— Strombone (@strombone1) July 31, 2017
Luongo was at his best when he was making fun of himself:
If anybody finds my jock kindly return it thanks https://t.co/6Rt9S2if4g— Strombone (@strombone1) November 30, 2016
October wasn't so bad after all......... pic.twitter.com/ENst0nWoan— Strombone (@strombone1) November 1, 2013
We could be here all afternoon sharing tweets from Luongo, whose Twitter account remains one of the best among pro athletes. But all of that self-deprecating humor removed any lingering disdain for Luongo from his time with those hated Canucks teams. By the end of his career, Luongo was one of the most beloved NHL athletes. And retirement should leave Luongo with ample time to fire off his patented one-liners.
He’s already off to a good start: