Image courtesy of Charles Wenzelberg, The New York Post.
By: Sean Youngberg
Long-time Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s contract was bought out by the team on Wednesday, Sept. 30, ending his reign as “King of New York.”
The 38-year old goalie, who relied heavily on his athleticism and instincts while in the crease for the Rangers, looks to find a new home during his 2020 free agency.
Drafted as the 205th pick by the Rangers in 2000, Lundqvist made his first appearance for the blueshirts in the 2005-06 season. The Sweedish keeper would go on to be known as “The King,” over the following 15 seasons.
Lundquvist established himself as one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game while also becoming the face of one of New York’s most storied franchises.
“Few players have been as important to the Rangers franchise as Henrik Lundqvist,” James Dolan, Executive Chairman of Madison Square, stated in a press release regarding the buyout, “he will always be a part of the Rangers family.”
He leaves the Rangers as their all-time leader in goaltending wins, games played, starts and shutouts. He currently sits as the sixth all-time in goaltending wins and won the Vezina Trophy following the 2011-2012 season, a trophy awarded each season to the best goalie in hockey.
Lundqvist never won a Stanley Cup, but came close in 2014 when the Rangers lost to the Kings after five games. The image of an exhausted Henrik lying face down on the ice while the LA Kings celebrate their title is one ingrained in the minds of almost every Rangers fan.
“Thinking of all the great teammates I got to play with as a Ranger. So many good players, fun characters, great people that made the past 15 years such a blast,” Lundqvist said via Twitter, “Playing for a franchise with such passionate and committed fans makes all the work you put in worth it. Winning at Madison Square Garden always gave me so much energy, joy and satisfaction.”
Chants of “HEN-RIK” rang through the Garden on a nightly basis as Lundqvist took the breath of fans away with his stellar play. He embraced a fanbase and a city that embraced him right back, rendering his time spent with the blueshirts as unforgettable.
“Representing this organization has been the biggest source of pride and joy in my life,” Lundqvist continued on Twitter, “I’m so grateful for the opportunity, for the friendships and for all the great memories created wearing the red, white and blue. I will always cherish my time as a Ranger.”
Fans will never forget those same memories and will never fail to cherish the time Henrik Lundqvist spent in the net for the blueshirts. All that is left to say is thank you, Hank, for always giving us your everything, for embracing our city and for never failing to amaze us.