New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist helped lead Sweden to gold in 2006, during his first season in the NHL. Since then, he has established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the league, helping the Rangers to the playoffs in each of his four seasons. Before playing in the NHL, Lundqvist had success in Sweden's professional hockey league, winning the award for the best goaltender in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
In Torino, Lundqvist was an NHL rookie, but his Swedish league experience made him the easy choice as the starter for Sweden, who had last won the gold medal in 1994. He started six of Sweden's eight games, posting five wins with a goals against average of 2.33. In the gold-medal game against Finland, Lundqvist made 25 saves, with the best one coming in the final minute when he robbed Olli Jokinen of what would have been the tying goal. Sweden won the game 3-2. After the win, and celebration in Italy, the team flew to Stockholm to join the party at home before returning to the United States to resume the NHL season.
Lundqvist became a fan favorite during his first season in New York, when his at times outstanding play carried the Rangers to the playoffs for the first time since 1997. That season, he earned the nickname "King Henrik," and is also known as "Hank." His penchant for fashion has drawn attention, with Hugo Boss and Dior among his off-ice looks. In April 2006, Lundqvist was named one of People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People. He has been spotted at fashion shows during New York's fashion week, and was on the cover of the New York Post's 2008 Page Six Magazine, as "The World's Sexiest Ice Man."
Start in sport
Lundqvist hails from Are, the site of Sweden's most popular ski resort. He and his twin brother, Joel, began skating at a young age. They joined a team at age 8, and Joel volunteered Henrik to play goalie during a practice. Three years later, the family moved south to Bastad so their sister, Gabriella, could pursue a tennis career. Joel and Henrik stuck with hockey, and frequently attended professional games because their father's company sponsored the team Frolunda. That became their favorite team, and both brothers went on to play for that team in the Swedish league.
Henrik and Joel were both drafted in 2000, Henrik by the Rangers at 205th overall, and Joel, who plays center, by the Dallas Stars at 68th overall. Joel made his NHL debut in December 2006, and that month got the chance to play against Henrik and the Rangers, marking the first time in the NHL than a goaltender faced his twin. They are the third set of twins ever to play each other in an NHl game. Joel played for the Stars sporadically through the 2008-09 season as a fourth-line center before returning to Sweden. This season, he is serving as Frolunda's captain.
Before coming to the NHL, Lundqvist had three outstanding seasons for Frolunda. He won the award for the league's best goaltender in 2003, 2004 and 2005, leading the team to the league title in 2003 and 2005. His final season in the league, 2004-05, Lunqdvist also was named the MVP of the league and Sweden's best player. He also started in goal for Sweden at the 2004 and 2005 world championships, earning a silver in 2004 and fourth place in 2005.