When I grow up, I want to be Henrik Lundqvist. Obviously I’m semi grown up now, at least grown up enough to put together sentences and post videos for your enjoyment, but I’m seven years younger than Henrik Lundqvist. If in seven years I’m even remotely Henrik Lundqvist-esque, that would be super freaking awesome news.
Barbara Barker of Newsday did a really great piece on Lundqvist and basically how outrageously great it is to be him. We’ve had athletes tell us how awesome they are before BUT if Lundqvist said that, he’d probably be right.
We’ve looked at how out of this world his season has been here before, but there’s more to it than that. This is not just an exceptional player, this is a walking, talking pattern of behavior.
Lundqvist’s excellence isn’t constrained to a rink. For a guy who was the 205th overall draft pick in 2000 – seriously, look it up – he has exceeded expectations all over the place. The sad part is though, for all the glitz and glamor that comes with Manhattan, he has been looked over in town and around the league. Barker sums the former up quite nicely.
Eventually a public relations person comes to save The King. Lundqvist makes it over to the blackjack table, only to pose for more pictures. The whole scene seems to underscore one fact about Lundqvist: If he played any other major sport, this would be his everyday life. If he didn’t play a sport in which his entire body was encased in pads and plastic, he wouldn’t be able to walk down the street outside his restaurant in TriBeCa without anyone recognizing him. He would be a Derek Jeter or a Carmelo Anthony or Eli Manning.
The fact that Lundqvist hasn’t gotten any hardware to this point in his career is a testament to how exceptional the NHL has been of late. He didn’t win the Calder Trophy because three guys named Crosby, Ovechkin and Phaneuf were nominated ahead of him. That year he was nominated for the Vezina that year too, but lost to someone named Kiprusoff and again to someone named Brodeur. Seriously, give this guy a trophy.
In all fairness he has won the Rangers MVP five straight times. So yeah… there’s that.
Even still, they’ve had some playoff difficulty in large part due to the fact that the team has been nowhere as good outside the crease as Lundqvist is in net. Don’t think that has been overlooked in the Rangers camp however, they know exactly what they’ve done with the King in net.
“There’s been a lot of pressure on Hank, and he’s just been on another planet this year,” said Rangers forward Brian Boyle, who is a close friend of Lundqvist’s. “He’s unbelievable. He’s constantly trying to get better, and it shows.”
The one thing that Lundqvist hasn’t been able to do is lead the Rangers out of the second round of the playoffs. His career postseason record is 15-20. There have been various reasons for that, from injuries to the fact that Lundqvist and his teammates had to work so hard just to get the team into the playoffs that they flamed out in the postseason.
It’s pretty simple to figure out what could launch Lundqvist into the next stratosphere of icon though, he’s done everything except one thing…
Off the ice, Lundqvist may be the city’s coolest athlete. He helped design his own clothing line, plays guitar in a band with John McEnroe, owns a trendy restaurant in TriBeCa called Tiny’s, helps thousands of children though his chairmanship of the Garden of Dreams Foundation and recently made a PSA to promote tolerance toward gay and lesbian athletes.
“To become a transcendent celebrity is to get lucky and win the Stanley Cup,” said Steve Herz, president of IF Management, a Manhattan-based sports and media talent agency. “He needs to be able to take off the mask and get out there and play guitar on Letterman. Winning the Stanley Cup could do a lot for him.”
I would hate to be the one who bets against him. That’s not to say I think the Rangers will win the Stanley Cup, but damn, I’d hate to be the guy who bets against Henrik Lundqvist, even if you are just taking the field.
Plus he spawned my favorite hashtag ever, #Lundsanity. I’ll take credit for that one every day, thank you.
Given the start to his career, where do you think Henrik Lundqvist will rank among the all-time great ‘tenders when he hangs it up?