NEW YORK – October 8th 2005, a day in which Henrik Lundqvist played his first ever NHL hockey game. It was also a game he lost in overtime to the New Jersey Devils.
February 11th 2017 is the day Henrik Lundqvist became the fastest goalie to ever reach 400 career wins in just 727 games; a feat that surpassed the great Martin Broduer who did it in 735 games.
When you look back at a time in which the NHL was fresh off a lockout season and the New York Rangers misery had mounted for years prior and the future looked bleak in between the pipes. Drafted 205th overall in the 2000 entry draft, it’s safe to say Lundqvist was a dime-a-dozen for the Blueshirts. No one really knew what direction this team was going in. It was all about spending free agency money. Glen Sather had been the general manager and president since 2000 and his failure to develop a system of young kids was nothing but a fantasy to some of the die hards.
Lundqvist, a goalie from Sweden changed the dynamic of the franchise once he showed what he can bring to the table. In his first year, he won 30 games in 53 games played. That was just the stepping stone to his journey to NHL stardom. Every year that Lundqvist has been in the league he has posted at least 30 wins or more in a single season (with the exception of the shortened 2012-2013 NHL season) which is an NHL record and is the only goalie in the games history to do so.
A year after he broke into the league Lundqvist earned his nickname the King. Not only for his brilliant performance and outstanding rookie season for the Rangers but for also carrying his country to Olympic gold in Turin in 2006.
The stylish goalie has made his mark in every aspect since being here in New York and has become one of the leagues stars. It’s been a long journey for Lundqvist who, come this March will be 35 years old. Still in the prime of his career, but has begun to show signs of slowing down; that of course to through the eyes of doubters. King Henrik has accomplished all but one thing, a Stanley Cup; one that came 3 wins shy of one back in 2014-2015. He has been an all-star three times, a Vezina trophy winner and a gold medal winner. He is still in search of that last win that would truly put him over the top as not just the Rangers most valuable player to play for them but a guy who Rangers fans will etch in their hearts forever if they haven’t already.
This season has been a roller coaster one for the King. There were times of struggle that not even the experts could have figured out. He had been pulled from over a handful of games and saw himself sit on the bench for four straight games while his counter part Antti Raanta outplayed him. Lundqvist knew this was part of the process. For a guy who prepares so hard for each and every game and analyzes each and every save made it secretly killed him inside but it also motivated him. He had regained his form and has been better ever since.
Ironic enough his 400th win came against a team that had once had one of the hockey greats Patrick Roy as their goalie and who went on to win 551 games.
Lundqvist now has 400 and he currently has 26 wins on the season just 4 away from yet another 30 win season as he continues to smash the record book. When you ask the humble Lundqvist though, he went on to say exactly what you’d expect him to say, “I’m just really proud and I’m really thankful for that opportunity. This organization means so much to me and they’ve given me this opportunity to play a lot of hockey. It’s been 12 years where I’ve been getting a lot of starts and I had a lot “I’m just really proud and I’m really thankful for that opportunity. This organization means so much to me and they’ve given me this opportunity to play a lot of hockey. It’s been 12 years where I’ve been getting a lot of starts and I had a lot of good teammates throughout the years and you think back to them right now obviously because they’re part of it as well. I will definitely enjoy this tonight and kind of reflect a little bit before you go back to work tomorrow morning.”
Henrik Lundqvist is certainly a player that doesn’t come too often in an organization. When you get to experience it you want it to last a very long time and fortunately for Rangers fans it has. All you can do now is continue to enjoy the ride for a little longer and a parade to go with it. Congratulations to Henrik Lundqvist, goalie of the New York Rangers.