The Florida Panthers season has just kicked off with some bad news.
The Florida Panthers were facing off against Florida state rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning for their season opener and although the Panthers did not get the result that they wanted, the story tonight will have very little to do with the game itself. That's because the Panthers lost one of their best players during the game to injury.
During the game on Saturday night veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo was forced to leave suddenly due to injury, something that the team itself would officially confirm later in the evening. According to the official report from the Panthers Luongo suffered a lower body injury on the evening and, obviously, considering the game is over he did not return following the injury. It's unfortunately a story that fans in Florida have become all to familiar with, Luongo in spite of his solid and consistent level of play with the Panthers has been largely unable to stay healthy for a full season. This time around it's even more frustrating due to the fact that the injury occurred literally in the very first game of the season.
It's unclear exactly what happened to Luongo but based on the camera angles it appear that it may have been a teammate of his that caused the injury. With a number of players racing for the puck in front of the Panthers net, 24 year old undrafted Panthers center Frank Vatrano comes flying into the frame and appears to fall on the right leg of Luongo. The veteran goaltender appears to be fully engaged in the play right up until the point when Vatrano falls on his leg, and it's at that moment that he fully sprawls out on his stomach and begins to show signs of pain.
The particularly bad news for fans of the Panthers here was the fact that Luongo was not able to get up and off the ice under his own power, instead needing two Panthers trainers, one under each arm, to carry him off of the ice and back into the Panthers locker room. It's not clear at this time how bad the injury is but we'll likely get more information on that in the next couple of days,.