One of the things I’ve noticed an increase in over recent years is the immediate need to discuss a specific athlete’s legacy, his need for a ring and ultimately, how he compares, or will compare, to the greats that came before him.
I’ve mentioned before that this postseason might be the best goaltended playoffs we’ve ever seen, but three of the four starting goalies remaining don’t need to have their legacies discussed.
Martin Brodeur cemented his a long time ago. Sure, standing on his head to win a fourth Stanley Cup at 40-years-old might be the last push to separate him from anyone else whose ever played the position, but for the most part, there isn’t much to be gained or lost on the legacy and all-time rank front.
Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith have been absolutely stupendous this year, but I highly doubt anyone’s going to be discussing either of their long term legacies anytime soon.
Henrik Lundqvist, on the other hand, is legitimately laying the foundation of a Hall of Fame career, and a Cup this year could already be the final brick.
Now that might not sound too surprising to the average hockey fan, but what if I told you that King Henrik is only three years older than Quick, and is just 20 days older than Smith? The fact that it seems like he’s been in every Vezina Trophy discussion since the lockout and the fact that he’s halfway to 500 wins (252 to be exact) makes it feel like Lundqvist has already been around forever.
But he’s still only completing his seventh NHL season. He’s still just 30-years-old, at a position we’ve seen the greats continue to excel in through their mid and even late 30′s. He’s been nominated for the Vezina in four out of his seven seasons. He should win his first this season (39 wins, eight shutouts, 1.97 GAA, .930 save percentage) and he’s got a Hart nomination to go with it. Would anyone really be surprised if the guy with a career GAA of 2.27 and a save percentage of .920 finishes with 500 wins, multiple Vezinas and multiple Hart nominations?
I know I wouldn’t. And I know that when you look at those possibilities, when you look at the type of season he had this year, and when you add a Stanley Cup ring (or multiple rings) to it, you’re looking at a resume that could stand up to some of the greatest goalies we’ve seen in our lifetimes.
Henrik Lundqvist is that good, and a Rangers Cup win this season could force us all to appreciate his greatness forever.
Links? I have a few…
- Revisiting the Conn Smythe favourites (The Hockey Writers). I didn’t even mention it in my spiel, but if the Rangers do win the Cup, Lundqvist would probably also be adding a Conn Smythe to his collection.
- The Rangers’ D was crucial in their Game 1 win over the Devils (ESPN). If I hear one more person complain about the blocked shots and the low scoring, I’m gonna lose it. First of all, a blocked shot with the game on the line, that you can feel from your living room, is an awesome component of playoff hockey. Second, as long as a game is close and both teams are generating scoring chances, it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s 5-5 or 0-0.
- If you’re going to a John Tortorella press conference, remember to switch your phone onto silent (theScore.com).
- The NHL Network credited Brad Richards with “2 shits” last night (Deadspin). Quite simply, this might be the best thing you see all day. Awesome.
- Raffi Torres’ appeal is set for Thursday (CityNews).
- The Kings’ strength at centre could spell trouble for the Coyotes (National Post).
- Simon Gagne has been cleared for contact (theScore.com). However, Gagne is still “a long way from playing.”
- Rostislav Klesla is playing through the pain for the Coyotes (USA Today).
- With the Kings, Lakers and Clippers all still playing, LA’s Staples Center prepares for an unprecedented weekend (Puck Daddy).
- Last night, Alexander Semin’s agent said that Semin was done with the Capitals (Sporting News). Regardless of what you think about Semin, he’s going to get paid this summer.
- Nikita Filatov’s KHL deal is no big loss for the Sens (Ottawa Sun).