From 205th overall to becoming one of the most decorated players in Rangers and NHL history. This is going to be nothing but a pure tribute to the greatness that was Henrik Lundqvist. The King, Henrik Lundqvist retires after 15 seasons with the New York Rangers. As difficult and painful the news was that Lundqvist was being bought out by the Rangers, the news of him retiring hits harder to the core.
I was 15 years old when Lundqvist made his debut on Broadway and from his first game I became enthralled in the Swedish netminder. Mind you, I just went through the unbearable tenure that was watching Mike Dunham. Also fresh off of having endured the likes of Guy Herbert, Kirk McLean, Dan Blackburn, and Dan Cloutier try to fill the shoes left behind from Mike Richter’s early retirement.
There was something different about the man who would shortly later become dubbed as “The King” and outside of Wayne Gretzky being “The Great One” I’m not sure there was a more fitting moniker ever given. Lundqvist always carried himself with a regal sort of nature that just added to his on ice prowess and dominance.
In a short time the man from Sweden became one of New York’s favorite sons even if he never was able to get the Blueshirts to the promised land. Any fan with any sort of understanding of the game knows that Lundqvist did everything in his power to add another Cup banner to the MSG rafters. After all, it wasn’t Lundqvist’s fault that Glen Sather never fielded a complete team around Lundqvist. You don’t have to take my word for it, just go look at those early Rangers rosters and outside of Jagr or Shanahan, who on those teams was really worth a damn?
Even though a majority of the Blueshirts teams during Lundqvist’s run were subpar you’d never hear Lundqvist point the finger at anyone else. The buck always stopped at his feet and he’d shoulder all the blame for the losses and rarely, if ever, take the credit for the teams successes.
He was always a consummate professional and great team leader and was arguably the biggest reason as to why the club created a winning culture after the “dark ages” of Rangers hockey. Look no further than his loyalty to the team and the fans for wanting to stay throughout the teams rebuild and be a mentor to the teams future in net in Alex Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin. We’ve mentioned on the 30 On Broadway podcast that part of the reason we get the Rangers season was a bit sideways was due to the clubs true leader being absent for the first time in 15 years.
459 career wins while donning the iconic Rangers sweater and even more countless memories and big time saves from number 30. Who could ever forget his robbery of David Krejci? Or the absolute robbery of Alex Semin, who still has one of the best wrist shots I’ve ever seen, that left everyone including Semin and Ovechkin in utter shock.
To my personal all-time favorite Lundqvist moment, his unbelievable game 7 show against the Penguins in round 2 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the third and the Penguins threw everything plus the kitchen sink at Lundqvist and he refused to break. It was truly one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen an individual player put forth but that game underscored the greatness that was Henrik Lundqvist.
We as Ranger fans have seen a lot of great players come and go from this franchise but we’ve never seen one like Lundqvist. A player who embodied greatness on and off the ice and someone who you just couldn’t help but root for. His retirement is bittersweet for me because I have never rooted for a player to win a championship more than him. However it would’ve killed me to see him win in another teams sweater.
I am beyond thankful and thrilled to have gotten to watch him dazzle the MSG faithful for 15 years. His career his a reminder to everyone that championships don’t build a players legacy. Henrik Lundqvist is a Hall of Fame player and person and not having a Cup will never change that.
Thank you for your greatness and humility, Henrik. Once a Ranger Always a Ranger, but more than that you’ll Forever be The King.
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