Thank you to reader Anna for finding and translating these interviews with Henrik from 2004 and 2003. They were quite revealing. Apparently, Henrik's real name is actually Bjorn Henrik Lundqvist. Anna explained to me that in Sweden it is quite common for people to use their middle names instead of their first name. I was pretty shocked. I think we can all agree that Henrik suites him better than Bjorn. Anyway, Henrik also revealed that he almost left Frolunda to come to the Rangers a year early which I did not previously know. Read on for more, I highlighted some of the things I found interesting:
”I am incredibly irritable”
Frölunda’s Henrik Lundqvist about not making it to the World Cup team, buying an appartment in Manhattan – and his new band.
He sits on a gold coloured couch and talks about his last encouter with a hockey journalist from New York.
- She asked how I would cope living in New York. “What,” I answered, “I live in Gothenburg. If you’ve lived in Gothenburg you can cope with anything,” tells Henrik Lundqvist and grins. And the black boots he’s wearing are cockier and more pointy than ever.
A big interview with Frölunda’s and Tre kronors Henrik Lundqvist is almost never a problem. “I don’t do anything during the days anyway,” he says.
(The interviewer meets an older player outside the dressing room and they look at a picture of him in ’87. The interviewer tells the player that the Lundqvist brothers went to kindergarden then. The player says he just got ten years older hearing that)
Henrik Lundqvist laughs loudly when he gets to hear the story. “1987, I was 5 then and they used to freeze water in a sand box so we could play hockey,” he tells. “But I didn’t start playing hockey in Järpen before I was eight, in 1989 (note: not my fault, apparently Henrik thinks he was 8 in 1989).
That tells us how young Frölunda’s star goalie really is. But aged 22, he is Swedish hockeys future and the biggest goalie talent in decades.
He didn’t get a place in World Cup though, where he wasn’t picked by Hardy Nilsson and had to watch Tre Kronor from the audience. “I prepared really well with extra early personal ice training, before the others in Frölunda. Those were quite tough trainings. So of course I was hoping to play,” says Henke. “But I wasn’t in good shape before the end and that was too late.”
People say you should have played and then Hardy Nilsson would still have had his job?
“That’s just a silly afterwards thing, I completely understand they put in Tellqvist, he looked hottest during the trainings. That we lost wasn’t his fault, it was the whole defense that was wide open. We shouldn’t even talk about the game against Czech Republic.”
But you must have been dissappointed about not making it to the team?
“Of course I would have liked to play, but I was never extremely dissappointed.”
Thanks to the lockout in the NHL there’s a lot of focus on Elitserien, even in Northern America. According to hockey journalists in New York people think you’re going to be a superstar even there – if the media doesn’t eat you!
Henrik laughs surprised.
“They say that? Then it might be good that I’m getting used to that here at home.”
But you don’t think about NHL?
“Not at all. Only when you bring it up, I start thinking about it. Me and Therese have talked about how it would be to maybe move there and play for the Rangers. Today it’s five minutes to the arena, there it’s an hour or two between MSG and the new training facility outside the city. How will that be in traffic?”
So you’re dreaming about a four bedroom appartment in Manhattan now?
“Rather a one room (appartment without bedroom) appartment, with those rents they have. We could probably not afford more.”
But it could be tough for Therese, as a hockey wife when you are on road trips?
“Yes, we’ve talked about that it could get tough. We’d probably have to make sure to live in a good place, because she wouldn’t get a work permit and would be home quite a lot. But right now it’s Frölunda that matters!”
You were close to leaving Frölunda last summer?
“I was quite focussed on that for a long time, but then Rangers took a long time with it and the contract got messy. And then Frölunda wanted to get payed for letting me go and... yes, it was quite a lot of money, and then I felt one day that no, I wasn’t mature enough, I wasn’t ready, I’m not finished in Frölunda. I’m staying.”
“The day after that decision I travelled to the USA and Mexico with Therese on vacation and it just felt like the right decision. I feel good in Frölunda.”
You play almost all games. How worn out are you now, after a third of the series?
“Physically it’s no problem, I have energy. But mentally it can be tougher. If you’re not hundred procent present on the ice it goes wrong immediately.”
Have you experienced that?
“Yes, several times. It happens that I take the wrong decision, that it doesn’t go smoothly, that I get too aggressive or maybe go down too early on the ice. Sometimes a puck goes in and I think ‘Why did I do that, I wouldn’t have done that during a training.”
You’re known for loading/preparing quite hard before games, and get really moody?
“I have always loaded, but now I play so much I don’t do it as intensively as before. I listen to music and see pictures in my head, but now it’s only one hour instead of three.”
What about the mood?
“I am incredibly irritable, already in the morning. If someone annoys me I snap immediately. Or if someone shoots me on my mask during the warm up, I get really pissed and start swearing at the guy... even though I know that such things happen.”
Sorry to ask a stupid question, but you never get to sit and rest during a game. How hard is it actually to stand so focussed for such a long time on the ice?
“You crouch and rest after whistles or when the puck is on the other side. Look into the audience after whistles. It’s ok.”
And then you switch on, when they attack?
“Yes, then everything is on, then I just see the puck and my only thought is ‘I will get that puck.’ But I’m trying to teach myself to see the larger picture, to see what’s on the other side, kind of. Sometimes I’m too focussed on the puck.”
Us hockey reporters get some mails about that your pads should be measured. Has that been done?
“Yes, the league measures all and mine are good. I could even have had a centimeter wider.”
But you have less now than before?
“A little, maybe. A little shorter. But they’re thinking about taking off five cm in NHL, so...”
“Pads are always meassured, especially during championships. Greet your readers that mine are good!”
You’re quite good at avoiding talking about your private life with Therese?
“Yes, there’s no reason to talk about that. I hate reading such things in magazines myself.”
You could have let her join you on the picture we took of you?
“She’s at work.”
“At a kindergarten.”
Does Frölunda have groupies?
He laughs again.
“There is a group of girls you recognize now, when they ask for an autograph for like the twentyfifth time. But groupies... I don’t know.”
Anything else? Tell us something fun!
“We have started a band! It’s me and Joel and the juniors Kalle Olsson and Björn Gustafsson. We practice once a week. I’m on guitar, Joel drums. But it sounds soso...”
Do you play hard covers?
“No, it’s mostly some Lars Winnerbäck, Gyllene Tider, Green Day... Easy to sing and easy to play.”
Any band name?
“No. That’s how new we are, we don’t even have a name.”
I’m probably going to write that the couch you’re sitting on is of gold colour.
Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t answer, but grins again.
This is Henrik
Name: Björn Henrik Lundqvist
Born: 2 march 1982 in Åre
Family: Living together with Therese
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 88 kg
Shoe size: 44
Lives: Appartment in Gothenburg
First club: Järpens IF
Started playing hockey: 8 years old
Other teams: Rögle BK
Glove hand: left
Own homepage: No. (“Me and computers? I don’t think so”)
...Fast cars: I don’t know anything about cars, but I like driving those that go fast. I drive a BMW myself.
...Cooking: Don’t know anything about that either. I’m not interested in cooking whatsoever, and I don’t have to care about it because my girlfriend Therese is such a good cook. I cut the vegetables. And I eat porridge every time we have home games.
...Nisse Ekman (A guy who skated into him really hard once): He’s great, we hung out a bit during World Cup. But you’re thinking about the hit last season. That is passed us now. But we talked about it when I met him and his girlfriend, who is from Gothenburg.
...George Bush: My sister Gabriella lives in the USA and she would really have preferred seeing John Kerry win, but I’m undecided. Although Bush would probably gain from being less offensive on certain subjects.
...Pointy boots: I love boots!
...Golf: I have handicap 21, so it’s crawling downwards (?). I ended my season with a new set of golf clubs, but during the second last game I ruined a club by throwing it straight into the woods and it hit a tree quite badly.
...Journalists: Most of them are pretty nice and are just doing there jobs. But it’s happened that someone calls me late, late in the evening, without any excuses and that really bothers me. But I don’t read everything they write, especially not after a bad game, then I don’t even open the newspaper.
Some short questions from another interview in 2003:
Do you have any phobias?
“That must be a spider phobia. (smiles) I really hate spiders, it’s the worst thing I know, spiders and snakes.”
What would you say is typical for Henrik Lundqvist?
(Long silence) “I would have to say egoistic then, really badly (laughs). No, but I think a lot about myself, that I should have it good all the time, yeah but it is like that really (laughs). It’s both good and bad, I mean it’s clear you have to think about yourself, you only live once and you should make sure to live well then. At the same time it wouldn’t hurt to think about others either (laughs).
That’s quite a big difference between me and my brother. He thinks about others more than I do. But it has become like that with me standing in goal also. You almost need to be a little ego because you’re so alone out there. If you stand there thinking about others it doesn’t work. It’s like, only you who has to do it so it’s kind of easy to take that frame of mind with you outside of the rink too, a little at least.”
But is it something you’re trying to work on?
(laughs) “Yes I guess it is. (silence) or well it’s mostly my girlfriend who thinks I should work on it, on not being so self centered.”