Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks had been heading toward a cliff for some time before he was finally traded away Tuesday.
But a surprise benching in the marquee game of the Canucks’ season was one slight too many for the veteran goaltender.
Coach John Tortorella chose to start rookie Eddie Lack in net for last weekend’s Heritage Classic, a move that greatly aggravated Luongo and, according to his agent, Pat Brisson, was the catalyst for his trade to the Florida Panthers.
“If Lu had played Sunday, the talks with the Canucks might have taken place at a later time,” Brisson told QMI Agency on Wednesday. “Therefore, it gave us a reason to discuss his status.”
Brisson also told TSN 1050 on Wednesday that if Luongo had been given the start for the outdoor game, which Vancouver lost 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators, he would still be with the Canucks.
Luongo was pleased to return to Florida, though, where he said he hopes to finish his career. With former Stanley Cup rival Tim Thomas now a member of the Dallas Stars, Luongo assumes the role of the Panthers’ unquestioned No. 1 goalie.