Roberto Luongo held back tears.
Minutes before the start of Thursday night’s game against the Washington Capitals, Luongo — the Florida Panthers’ star goalie — spoke to the fans at the BB&T Center regarding last week’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“I live in Parkland,” said Luongo as the Panthers played their first game since the tragedy occurred just minutes from their home arena in Sunrise.
“I’ve lived in Parkland 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 was Valentine’s Day, and I was in Vancouver. We all know what happened. … No child should ever have to go through that. It’s terrible.
“It’s time for us as a community to take action. Enough is enough. To the families of the victims, our hearts are broken for you guys. To the teachers at the schools, you guys are heroes.
“I’ve been watching the news. I’ve been seeing what the kids from Douglas have been doing. You guys are brave. You guys are an inspiration to all of us. You guys are what is giving us hope for the future.”
In addition to Luongo, Panthers announcer Randy Moller hosted a tribute to the 17 Douglas students and faculty members who died in the shooting.
The video screen showed the names and faces of each of the victims, and the darkened ice was then illuminated with 17 circles of light.
Panthers players will wear Douglas decals on their helmets and patches on their uniforms for the rest of the season.