Roberto Luongo, a Florida Panthers player who is a resident of Parkland, delivered a heartfelt, emotional speech before Thursday night's game against the Washington Capitals in which he expressed his sadness for what occurred in the school tragedy and his hope for the future led by survivors.
"I live in Parkland. I've been living there for the last 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," Luongo said amid roaring applause. "I love that city."
Luongo described his experience on Feb. 14 – the day 17 people, mostly students, were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
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He was in Vancouver that day.
"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 got to take action," Luongo said, receiving more deafening applause.
He shared his condolences to the families of the victims.
"We're there for you," Luongo said, speaking on behalf of the Florida Panthers.
He described the school's teachers in one word: "heroes."
"Some of them didn't make it trying to protect children and that is truly what a hero is and those people need to be put on a pedestal," Luongo said.
The goaltender also spoke about the surviving victims from Stoneman Douglas, dozens of whom are taking action to push for gun reform.
The goal of the students is to assure their experience never happens again.
"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 said.
After such a draining week and emotional event commemorating the lives lost, the Panthers earned a much-deserved victory.
Vincent Trocheck of the Panthers scored the winning goal of the game with just 19.1 seconds left in the 3-1 win over the Capitals.