Last night, the New York Rangers paid homage to Henrik Lundqvist, retiring his number and raising his banner to the rafters. He joins ten other players whose numbers hang above the ice. Those players are Ed Giacomin (1), Brian Leetch (2), Harry Howell (3), Rod Gilbert (7), Andy Bathgate (9), Adam Graves (9), Vic Hadfield (11), Mark Messier (11), Jean Ratelle (19), and Mike Richter (35).
Lundqvist was more than just a goalie, not only to the team but also to fans. A fierce competitor on the ice, he is also well known for his philanthropic work off the ice. He has worked closely with the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to bring life-changing opportunities to young people. Lundqvist and his wife, Therese, set up the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation, whose goal is to create positive change in the lives of children and adults throughout the world.
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His Career and Accomplishments
The Rangers drafted Lundqvist at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He was 205th overall in the seventh round; however, he did not play for New York until the 2005-06 season. In his 15-year career with the Rangers, Lundqvist would post a 459-310-96 record, 2.43 Goals Against Average (GAA), and a .918 Save Percentage (SV%).
Over his 15 year career, Lundqvist has given fans and his team 64 shutouts. He is the franchise leader in wins with 459 and games played by a goalie with 887. He is sixth in regular-season wins in the league, seventh in total saves, eighth in games played, ninth in starts, and 17th in shutouts.
Lundqvist has been to the playoffs many times and has a 61-67 record. He has a .921 SV%, 2.30 GAA, and ten shutouts in those games. He also has a Game 7 record of 6-2 in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the King was never able to hoist the Stanley Cup, though he came close in the 2013-14 season.
He won the Vezina Trophy for the 2011-12 season and finished top-six in voting as the league’s top goalie on ten separate occasions. Also, he has received the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award twice. It is chosen by the fans and given to the player that “goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
Outside the NHL
Before coming to the NHL, he was successful in his home country of Sweden. He was the junior player of the year in 2002 and was awarded the Honken Trophy three times for the top goalie in the country. Lundqvist also won the Guldpucken and Guldhjälmen trophies, which are akin to the Hart and Ted Lindsay awards in the NHL.
He has won the gold (2006) and silver (2014) at the Olympics for Sweden. In addition to those medals, he has won two world championship silvers (2003 & 2004), World Cup of Hockey bronze (2016), and world championship gold (2017).
He is still connected to the Garden of Dreams and his charitable organization. He has stated that he loves New York on numerous occasions, so there’s a good chance he’ll stay. With the passing of Rod Gilbert last year, Lundquist, along with other former Rangers, will need to be ambassadors for the team. Though the shoes left by Gilbert are large, Lundqvist would be able to fill them.
Words can never sufficiently explain what Lundqvist means to the Rangers and its fanbase. He will always be the King, and as it should be, he is being sent off into the world with love, recognition, and gratefulness.
All hail the King.
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