It’s not every day The Hockey News makes an NHL player our special guest Editor-in-Chief for an issue of the magazine. In fact, in the 67-year-history of our esteemed publication, we’ve never done anything of the sort. And when we initially batted around the idea of asking an NHLer to take on the task this summer, there was really only one man we wanted for the job.
Ladies and gentlemen, THN’s staff presents to you our boss for the next edition (on newsstands and online in mid-October): Roberto Luongo.
That’s right – in addition to training and preparing for the start of his first full season as Panthers goalie since the 2005-06 campaign, Luongo has been hard at work with THN the past couple weeks crafting our next issue. We can’t give you all the details, of course, but the star goalie (a) set the agenda for the issue by choosing stories for our staff to work on; (b) wrote an editor’s notebook (sorry, regular Editor-in-Chief Jason Kay, you’re out of the mix this time) offered greater insight into the end of his time in Vancouver and the trade back to Florida; (c) conducted an excellent interview with another Quebec-born goalie of Italian heritage, Canadiens draft pick Zach Fucale; (d) answered reader questions in a special "Ask Roberto" mailbag; and (e) posed for an out-of-the-ordinary photo for the cover.
To say Luongo was thrilled for the opportunity was an understatement. Sure, he’s been spectacularly successful with his unofficial Twitter account, but this was something different and he embraced it fully. And maybe that’s because the Luongo of September, 2014 is a man at peace with himself after surviving an emotional rollercoaster late in his Canucks career.
Indeed, when I visited him in Florida earlier this week to work on the issue, Luongo was relaxed, affable and genuinely interested in the process of putting hockey’s top magazine together. But more importantly, he’s finally in a place where he just can be a goaltender once again and not the fishbowl resident he was for eight years in B.C. Say what you will about the Panthers and the lengthy road back to respectability they still have to travel, but there’s no doubt Florida offers Luongo a chance to be a difference-maker every night and a leader on a team with a talented young core of players. That’s all any NHLer really wants, and that was one of the key reasons Luongo accepted a trade back to the franchise at last season’s trade deadline. And if you look at his numbers in the handful of games he played for Florida after it re-acquired him (including a .924 save percentage, his best showing in that category since the .928 he posted for Vancouver in 2010-11), you can see he’s as motivated as ever to win a Stanley Cup.
So we know what Luongo’s focus is for the upcoming NHL season. What else does he have in store for the next edition of THN? You’ll have to buy it and find out, won’t you?