Since the dawn of time, the New York Rangers have been able to count on first-rate goalkeepers, and when the Blue Shirts' most illustrious goalkeepers are mentioned, several names come to mind: Ed Giacomin, Jacques Plante, Lorne "Gump" Worsley, Mike Richter, John Vanbiesbrouck and, more modernly, Igor Shesterkin. Connoisseurs will have noticed that a member of the legendary club of goalkeepers who shone at Madison Square Garden is missing:
The legendary Swedish athlete who reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, the year the New York Rangers unfortunately lost in the Grand Final to the Los Angeles Kings, began his professional career at the age of 18 in Sweden for Frölunda HC in the Elitserien, the Swedish Professional Hockey Circuit.
He was drafted in 2000 by the New York Rangers in the 7th round with the 205th pick, and the fact that he had to wait so long before hearing his name implies that all general managers have turned their noses up at the mythical hockey player more than once.
However, despite his selection in the NHL draft, he continued to play in his homeland for the next five seasons. He is an excellent example of how great players sometimes need time to reach their full potential. Few, like Connor McDavid, become stars of the best hockey league in the world as soon as they are selected in the draft.
With Frölunda, in 180 games, he maintained an efficiency average of 0.927. His team reached the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, winning the championship in 2003 and 2005. At the end of the 2004-2005 season, in which he rewrote the League's record books, he was named Goalkeeper of the Year and Swedish Player of the Year.
He was ready to rub shoulders with the best players in the world.
In September 2005, the man who has become the face of the New York Rangers signed an agreement with the big club. It was the start of a new era. At the end of his first season in America, he was nominated for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the NHL's best goaltender, and in the process broke a record for a Rangers rookie goaltender with over 30 wins. Unfortunately, it was Miikka Kipprusoff of the Calgary Flames who took the title. The fact that he wasn't considered Rookie of the Year can be attributed to a single factor, the emergence of: Sydney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Dion Phaneuf, the three Calder Trophy nominees.
The next time he'll be named one of the National Hockey League's top three goalkeepers will be at the end of the 2011-2012 season. This time, it will be the right one. He will win the Vezina Trophy ahead of Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, who lifted the Stanley Cup that season.
At the end of 15 years with the New York Rangers, in October 2020, King Lundqvist, as many call him, signed his transfer to the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately, in December of the same year, he announced via his Twitter feed that, due to heart problems, he would not play in the 2020-2021 season. On the international stage, Lundqvist first wore the colors of Sweden in 2000. In 2003 and 2004, he helped his team win the silver medal so convincingly that, in 2004, he was named the tournament's best goalkeeper. In 2006, at the Olympic Games in Turin, he led the Swedish team to gold. Nothing less. In 2010, at the Vancouver Olympics, despite his prowess in front of the Swedish net, his team qualified in fifth place. At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the same year the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Grand Final, Henrik Lundqvist and Sweden once again made it to the final, but Canada ultimately had the last word.
Mikael Gustavsson (client and friend) with Henrik Lundqvist
In August 2021, the worthy successor to Mike Richter, the last goaltender to win the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers, announced his retirement.
But, as at the end of any self-respecting movie, the King's exile in Washington forces him to return to Madison Square Garden, where he shone for 15 years. That's what happened on January 28, 2022, when his famous number 30 was retired by the New York Rangers, the team that loved him so much and that he loved so much in return.
Hen-rik! Hen-rik! Hen-rik! shouted the New York fans one last time. Some names will remain forever unforgettable, because they will be eternally associated with so much more than a few letters embroidered on the back of a jersey.
On November 13, 2023, the name of the legendary Swedish goaltender will once again be chanted when he is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, alongside Pierre Turgeon, Pierre Lacroix, Mike Vernon, Tom Barasso, Ken Hitchcock and Caroline Ouellette. Long live the KING ! -David Leboeuf Other interesting facts and feats from this living legend:
Holds the record for most NHL wins by a goaltender of European descent
Only goaltender in NHL history to record eleven 30-win seasons in his first twelve seasons.
His dominant play in his first season earned him the nickname King Henrik from New York media and Rangers fans.
HENRIK LUNDQVIST SPORTS ART January 28, 2022, was Henrik Lundqvist's jersey retirement at Maddison Square Garden, NY.
For the occasion, Fanatics asked me to create an original painting and three 1/1 giclees that were signed at the event by the King himself.
Each of the 3 giclees - The Stars, The Brooklyn Bridge and New York skyline - has been hand-worked to add authenticity to each one. At the moment, only The Brooklyn Bridge and New York skyline 1/1 giclees are available.
Own an exclusive signed piece by this recent Hall of Fame inductee.
This artwork is officially licensed by the NHL and is available exclusively from Fanatics. Call 1(800) 689-2001 or click on the link for purchase information:
Henrik Lundqvist : The Brooklyn Bridge https://bit.ly/SevignyArt_HenrikLundqvist_BrooklynBridgeSignedPrint
Henrik Lundqvist : New York skyline