Before the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals took the ice last night, Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo wanted to say a few words at their first home game since the shooting that took 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida earlier this month. As a Parkland resident, he wanted to speak on what it was like to live in that community—where his wife is from—and as a parent raising children there.
Luongo bowed his head as he addressed the crowd, fighting off tears, as he commended the courage of teachers and students in the wake of the tragedy:
Here's a full transcript of Luongo's speech:
“I just want to start off by saying I live in Parkland. I've been living there for the past 12 years. My wife was born and raised in that area, my kids go to school in Parkland. When I’m done playing hockey, I want to spend the rest of my life in Parkland. I love that city.
“Last week it was Valentine’s Day, I was in Vancouver and obviously we all know what happened and it was hard for me to be on the West Coast and not be able to get back home and protect my family. No child should ever have to go through that, it’s terrible.
“It’s time for us as a community to take action. It’s enough. Enough is enough. We’ve gotta take action.
"To the families of the victims, our hearts are broken for you guys. There's not much to say—it's heartbreaking. You guys are in our thoughts. We've been thinking about you every day constantly for the last week. Just know that we're there for you if you guys need anything. You'll be in our prayers and let's try to move on together. Last, two more things:
“To the teachers at the school, you guys are heroes, protecting your children. Some of them didn’t make it trying to protect children and that is truly what a hero is and they need to be put on a pedestal for the rest of their lives.
“The last thing I wanna say is since last Wednesday, I’ve been watching the news and I’ve been seeing what the kids from Douglas Stoneman have been doing and I am very, very proud of you guys. You guys are brave. You guys are an inspiration to all of us. And at the end of the day, you guys are what's giving us hope for the future.”
Luongo's message—hinting at his support of the students' stance against assault weapons—was greeted by a chorus of "Luuuuuu"s along with cheers, as the crowd cheered on their goalie's emotional message. We've seen athletes comment on tragedies that have happened close to them, but Luongo's message about Parkland came across all the more strongly because of his proximity to it.