With Henrik Lundqvist’s time in New York coming to an end, it is time for some reflection about one of the greatest goalies of all time.
I can confidently say that Henrik Lundqvist is the best goaltender in the near 100 year history of the New York Rangers. While Mike Richter is a close second, no man has been more reliable between the pipes than Lundqvist. Since he entered the league in 2005, he has been the best goalie in the league. Lundqvist has meant the world to me, and millions of other Rangers fans across the world, so needless to say, today has been a sad today.
Hank has given everything he had to New York, and us fans are forever indebted to him for what he has done for our favorite team. He kept the Blueshirts relevant and is the only reason those 2010’s teams were able to be as successful as they were. Henrik carried a team, a franchise, a fanbase and a city. Stuck behind a consistently terrible defense, Lundqvist shined. He made highlight reel save, after highlight reel save because his defense refused to help him out. I have never seen a goaltender make so many absurd saves look routine.
The King has done some amazing things for us. He brought us back to a Cup Final, he won us a Presidents’ Trophy, but more than anything else, Henrik kept the Rangers relevant. In a game like hockey that is so team-centric, it is so rare to have a player be able to completely steal a game and be the lone reason a team can win. But, since he took over in net, that seems to be what Henrik Lundqvist did just about every night.
While, yes, those 2010s teams were good, they were not Presidents’ Trophy good. They were not Cup Final appearance good. They were not 3 conference finals in 4 years good. But, Henrik Lundqvist was. He was the best goalie in the world for over a decade. He made even the most inept of defenses look like an all-star team.
I am trying to think of any other player in sports who has done something remotely similar to Lundqvist and I am not sure that there is really a fair comparison. Every night for over ten years you could count on Hank. You knew that as long as he was back there, that you had a chance. It didn’t matter who you put in front of him, he kept a team in the game.
Not only was Henrik an incredible player, but he is an incredible human that represented the Rangers so well off the ice. He involved himself with New York, and New York loved him for it. Just in these last couple of months, with his future with the organization in doubt, Lundqvist was a finalist for the prestigious King Clancy Memorial Trophy. He also donated one-hundred thousand dollars to a New York food bank for COVID-19 relief. This is just another donation in a long list of community service acts that Lundqvist has been apart of since arriving in New York in 2005.
This piece was hard to write. It has been difficult to put into words how much Lundqvist has meant to all Rangers fans over the last 15 years. While he may never play another game as a Ranger, the team’s all-time leader in wins, shutouts, and playoff wins, will always have a home in New York. He will forever be loved, respected and admired by millions of people worldwide for what he did for New York, and hockey as a whole.
Henrik deserved his nickname, “The King”, because he truly was one. For years, he was the biggest show at the World’s Most Famous Arena. He was a folk hero, an icon and more than anything else, a man who represented the New York Rangers perfectly.
So, thank you Hank. We will never forget what you did for our team. While the “HEN-RIK” chants at the Garden have been deafening over the last 15 years, I can’t even imagine what they will be like when that #30 Lundqvist jersey hits the rafters at The Garden. We love you Hank, thank you for everything.