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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Henrik Lundqvist on The Alex Schulman Show


Thanks to reader Debra for the link to this show.

Huge thank you to Johanna, for translating the show for us! I wish he gave interviews like this in the U.S. It's so refreshing to see a pro athlete be so candid in his responses.

- I sometimes feel a bit provoced because everything seems to work for you. Good looking, rich, lives in New York, plays hockey, drives sports cars. You do everything every guy would want. Is it sometimes hard to be so successful?

Henrik: First of all, I'm not that successful, I wake up in the mornings and have it a bit rough too.

- Describe a bad day

Henrik: You wake up and you're tired because you've traveled for three days, your whole body hurts. And then you have to stand and wait very long for your car and then you're stuck in traffic and sit and swear over that. And then you get to practice and get a scolding from the coach. ... If you've played bad of course you get a scolding. "You weren't good enough, you have to get better"

- I've actually seen a game with you where you got ridiculed by your own audience, that doesn't happen often, but they mockingly applauded you when you saved an easy puck because you earlier let 4-5 easy pucks in.

Henrik: Yeah, they're quick there. If you do well it's great, if you don't they're quick to show their dissatisfaction. … The New York audience is both the worse and the best. I like the contrast. It turns very quickly in New York, not just in sports, in life too.

- Isn't it lovely to end up in New York, you hear of some players who end up in the most weird places on earth.

Henrik: I've been very lucky, no question. I don't know how much you know about hockey but when you're 18 and have talent you get drafted, and Rangers drafted me so they had the rights to me. I could as well have ended up in Buffalo or Edmonton or somewhere else that doesn't feel as glamorous. Nothing wrong with those places but they're quite far from New York.

- Anytime they can say to you that now you're going to Idaho? They can call today?

Henrik: Yes absolutely, you're a product, that's the way it is.

- So Rangers drafted you and had the rights for you for no time limit?

Henrik: Now the rules have changed so it's different if you get drafted today, they change depending on contracts and stuff like that. But then they owned the rights for me until it was time for me to move across the Atlantic. And maybe if it didn't work with NY, they could trade with other teams. But they had the first right.

- Now you're one of the world's greatest goalies, the world's highest paid goalie anyway. Could you believe this, that it would go so well?

Henrik: Um, I don't know if I'm the highest paid one, maybe I was once in a time.
Have you gotten lower salary?

Henrik: There are guys that have signed contracts..
That you're jealous of?

Henrik: Absolutely not... The way it works over there, there are a lot of numbers when you negotiate contracts, it's quite easy to negotiate a contract in the USA, in the business world and in sports, because it's pretty black and white.

- But what did your coach say when you smashed the Lamborghini?
- Maybe we have to tell the story, Henke bought a Lamborghini that he smashed on the freeway. He states that he got aquaplaning and that he wasn't driving too fast at all.
- But you got to practice?

Henrik: Yes I did, but i was late.

- The coach wasn't angry?

Henrik: No, no, but I was lucky.

- The car got totally smashed up, but you didn't even get a bruise? That's also a bit provocative. You'd want him to at least break a leg and miss half the season.

Henrik: I mean, I could sit here and joke a little about it but it was actually very unpleasant and I had neck and back pains a couple of weeks after. But it happens, I was very lucky there and I'm very happy about that.

- Now you're in Sweden because the NHL has a premiere in Sweden, your team has premiere on friday and saturday in Globen. Why? I don't understand why they do that? Is it to create interest in Europe?

Henrik: Yeah, to create interest for the NHL, they've done this for a couple of years now, we've opened in Prague before, they've opened in Sweden for the last 4-5 years. It's good for spreading the sport and getting new fans. I think it's great and for us players to come to Europe, there are many European players in the NHL now so it's great for us to come here and play in front of our fans and for me personally to come to Sweden is fantastic.

- It's great that you came here (to the show) too, I also saw that Kristin Caspersen is here. When I met you this spring you also had a team with you. Do you always have a camera team with you?

Henrik: I often try to compress stuff to save time, and when you have free time you want to be free. But now when we're here a few days of course there are some media things, I like to compress that so I'll be completely free tomorrow to focus on hockey. Sometimes it can seem that you have a lot of stuff going on. Rangers helps also to schedule things so you can focus on hockey on the days you need it.

- You're very famous in Sweden, in sports Sweden. And there are some people who don't recognize you in sports contexts but still knows who you are, because of a commercial for Head & Shoulders that's extremely talked about. It's been very successful. But it's also special in the way that you run your hands through your hair about 75-80 times under the course of about 45 seconds. Shall we watch it? Or is it hard for you to see it?

Henrik: No, no, show it..

(They show the clip)

Henrik: I've thought recently about how much I run my hands through my hair, and I actually do that several times a day. Maybe it's a work injury?

- It's been exposed a lot during this previous year. Several times a day. We live with you in our living rooms.

Henrik: My parents use to say that: "We use to eat dinner with you, Henrik"

- What's making me so perplex is that I can't decide weather it's genius and amazing or really bad. Do you understand what I mean?

Henrik: You know, the goal with it a commercial is to create some sort of interest, then if people think it's good or bad.. But you create a certain interest around the product.. That's the goal.

- Now when we have you here Henke, I'm obsessed with looking at hockey fights on youtube. Do you hockey players look at fights like this, is it the same highlight for you?

Henrik: If something special happens that week with tackles or goals or fights, we use to check it out. I'm sure those who fight a lot watch a lot on youtube to learn from the fights. I learn a lot by looking at how I act in different situations, the same as for those who fight. It's a part of their job. Maybe it's starting to get less and less but we have some in the team who knows that if something happens with certain players, they have to step in and fight.

- So they're put there to protect certain key players?

Henrik: Yes.

- If someone does an ugly tackle on you-

Henrik: Then there's a smack down. They have that mentality. But the great thing with these guys is that in reality they are the softest and nicest guys, and on the ice they're monsters.

- Is Sean Avery also nice off the ice?

Henrik: He is a special person in many ways.

- But we have to say they're all great players or they wouldn't be on the team.

Henrik: It depends, some players who fight are considerably better players, and others are more put on the ice for their jobs as the "police".

- I have some clips here, I want you to guide us through them. When all of the players start fighting is it implied that the two goalies should fight each other?

Henrik: More like if one of the goalies steps into the fight, then the other goalie tend to go and punch on that goalie.

(They show a clip)

- It seems hard to fight as a goalie?

Henrik: Yes, it's hard to move. Lots of fighters have-, they throw off the-, if you look before a fight, they reverse and take off the gloves, many are polite and take off the helmet, otherwise you'll break your knuckles.

- So it's a gentleman thing?

Henrik: Yes. On the goalies there are so much equipment so it's really hard to move.

- What if one removes the helmet and the other one keeps it on?

Henrik: That's very unsportsmanlike.

- After a fight, does it ever happen that you'll meet and say "nice hit"?

Henrik: You often see that they fight till one's down and after it's almost a pat on the shoulder; "Good job" You have a certain respect for one another.

(Shows next clip)

Henrik: I don't think the audience is very happy there. They get very excited every time there's a fight, there's one hell of a noise. But if there are no hits they get very unhappy.

- But are they too afraid to go in?

Henrik: There's one thing to stand on solid ground and fight. On skates you're the most vulnerable when you go in for a hit. You get lots of weight forward and then the other guy can punch you. The one who takes the first step is the most vulnerable. You can practice it, like how you hold the shirt, if you hold it the wrong way, it's over.

(shows next clip)
- If this would happen in like a football game, there would be red cards and yellow cards.

Henrik: Yeah, but also in Sweden there's another view on this. In Sweden you get suspensions, whereas in the NHL you get about 5 minutes. If you punch someone right on the chin like that, you're gonna fall, doesn't matter how tall you are. And like I said, he steps in for a punch, but when you lean forwards you get one right back at you. It's quite hard to defend yourself. It's a whole different world. For me as a European and as a Swede to come there, I remember the first training camp, we even have fights on training camps. The first times I saw these fights-, I knew there would be fights, but I wasn't used to seeing it. These guys who fight know what they're doing, they have respect for each other even though it looks like-, it's not like a street fight. They have respect for each other and they know what's going on. They know how to do it and there's not often a guy who knows how to fight, fights someone who has never done it. They can look life threatening on the ice, but like I said, the guys I play with who are fighters are often very calm and soft. It's great to see the contrast. They step into a role on the ice.

- Do you associate with your teammates off the ice?

Henrik: Yeah, I associate with most of them actually. There are so many who have come and gone since I came to NY, I'm starting my 7th year now and there's only me left of the ones who were there when I came. There's quite a good flow of people.

(They show a clip of a talk show were the host makes some jokes. Alex gives everyone a joke for them to read and decide on how good it is)

Henrik: It's important how you deliver it. I'm actually very bad at delivering jokes. … When you see Letterman and Leno and those guys, it's not always they're especially funny either.

(They show a clip of a game show, Alex thinks the contestants are fake, they're actors, and he asks for their opinion)
Henrik: If you're a student and playing for 2 million kronor, I think you'd be more nervous. ... I think it was fake.

(They show a clip of a hockey commercial taking place in the shower. The team is nicknamed Bajen (The Poop) and is playing in division two, and in the end it says "Now we take them in the 2)

Henrik: Was that one real? No!? … I wouldn't participate in such a commercial.

- Does it give a justified picture of hockey players in the shower?
- It's like they're suggesting, "We're Bajen, we're gay and we take each other in the two in the shower. That's what they're saying in this commercial.

Henrik: It was very surprising to see this.

- Are there lots of gay jokes in the dressing room? Be honest.

Henrik: There are jokes about everything, but it's twinkle-eyed, so there's not-

- Do you compare penis sizes in the dressing room? Does anyone get applause?

Henrik: No, not really. We see each others every day, it gets old. We talk more about stuff that maybe happens on the ice or- but when it comes to the shower it's not like that, it's pretty natural. But there's lots of talking shit in the shower, not very much about appearance.

- Do you soap each other up?

Henrik: No, no we don't

- Massage each other with liniment?

Henrik: No, we have our own massage therapists.

- Of course you do.
- It doesn't work like that in the shower right? And your bodies doesn't look like that either?

Henrik: No

(They ask two questions he must answer)
- Which is your best homo erotic experience as a hockey player?

Henrik: Oh, wow...

- The best one of all of them, there are lots of them

Henrik: Um..

- Do you want to think about it for a while, we'll come back to you.

Henrik: Oh wow.. You know, you're around-, you have 20 guys around you all the time, you travel with guys, you get changed with guys. You know, it becomes so natural, I don't know, it's hard to..

- I just have prejudices about those types of guys, that they're scared, that it's a bit homophobic.

Henrik: As a hockey team you get very close to one another, you travel a lot, you spend a lot of time together.. We don't have that problem though! but I think it differentiates between teams, how close you come to one another and what kind of acceptance you have. Some may get more nervous than others if you get too intimate.. Sorry, but I don't really have a memory that stands out! I don't want to make you disappointed but…

- How much money did you get for those pull-your-hair-movies?

Henrik: I'm sorry, I can't say that, it's breach of contract. But Sweden isn't a big country when it comes to promotion if you compare it to the US where there are totally different sums. Head & Shoulders is a pretty big company though, they make quite some money, so they're good at supporting you with money. But I can't talk about it, sorry. … Commercial money is such a small part for hockey players.

- But then why do you do it?

Henrik: Several reasons. I think it's incredibly funny with media, both radio and TV, and to work with companies that-, not that I was a part of creating the last campaign, but in the future...

- When your career is over would you like to continue being in the spotlight? Like, a sports commentator?

Henrik: Not necessarily in front of a camera, however in media. Definitely radio or-, I like that business, to create..

- What about music?

Henrik: Yeah, I play but I'm too bad, it'll just fall flat.

- How's it going with the harp?

Henrik: So-so.. But I think it's incredibly funny with music and guitar playing.

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