ShareThisI didn't scan the article since I posted it last week. To my knowledge, these photos weren't available online so I decided to scan them. I wonder where they're hiding all the rest of the pictures from this photo shoot. It's a shame to just let them go to waste. Sports Illustrated if you're listening, release them, please.
I just want to let everyone know that there has been a price reduction for the shirt. I also added a juniors option. If you click on "more styles" there are even more options at even lower prices. Check it out.
– Henrik Lundqvist turned aside all 39 shots he faced to post his fourth career playoff shutout, and improved to 17-21 overall in postseason action with an 8-12 mark on the road. He passed Andy Aitkenhead for fifth on the Rangers all-time playoffs shutouts list, and moved into a tie with John Vanbiesbrouck for third in team history with 38 career postseason appearances. The 39 saves represent a career-high for Lundqvist in a playoff shutout, and he improved to 6-7 with a 1.83 GAA, .945 Sv% and two shutouts when posting 30+ saves in the postseason.
Talking shop with goalie Henrik Lundqvist at the New York Rangers' suburban practice center north of Manhattan, the goalie sits below a row of retired jersey banners, honoring greats such as Brian Leetch, Mark Messier and Mike Richter, the starting goalie for the last Rangers team to win the Stanley Cup in 1994.
The last player on that list is of particular interest to Lundqvist.
"How old was Richter when he retired?" Lundqvist asks a Rangers staff member, who quickly replies, "He was 36," explaining that bad knees and a concussion finally ended Richter's career.
Lundqvist, who is 30 and entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs after his most statistically remarkable regular season (1.97 goals-against average .930 save percentage), says, "I'd like to play another ten years, maybe more. But, with injuries, you never know. That's why you just have to enjoy the moment."
The latest moment for the Swede to soak in will come Thursday in the opening game of New York's first-round series against the No. 8 seeded Ottawa Senators.
Lundqvist's moment-savoring approach to his sport was on full display Monday as he prepares for the matchup. In an hour-long, fast-paced practice in which head coach John Tortorella barks throughout -- and goalie coach Benoit Allaire dissects his star pupil -- the All-Star goalie does what all elite athletes do: make the difficult look easy.
While seeming to barely be trying, few pucks get past "King Henrik." Yet there's an intensity of focus and precision that becomes visually evident when, after practice, he takes off his mask and his trademark side-parted head of hair is drenched in sweat.
Luckily for me, Lundqvist is as generous when it comes to talking about goaltending as he is stingy about letting in goals -- even in practice.
I grab hold of his Bauer stick from the bench and suggest the shaft seems awfully short for a guy listed on the roster as 6-foot-1. "Since I'm not too good at playing the puck, it helps me have more control," he says with a shrug.
In an era of ever-bigger goalies, the fact that Lundqvist actually cuts his stick shorter than average length is one of the many subtleties of his game that add up to give him a profound edge.
Most of his "tricks" aren't textbook goalie fundamentals; rather, he has developed a customized style that suits his size and abilities.
Upon seeing the slight guy fitted in a pair of stylish skinny jeans standing by the glass, you'd hardly guess he's the same blue wall who stands in front of the goal for the Eastern Conference's best team. So, how does he make himself look big on the ice?
He says he tries not to hunch over, keeping his chest up high while often holding his catching glove almost at shoulder height. It's a hand placement that a lot of goalie coaches might discourage, but no doubt works for him.
Another unorthodox aspect of Lundqvist's game is where he stands most of the time: in the blue paint of the crease. Even when given time and space to come out atop his crease, more times than not you'll find Lundqvist swimming in blue.
"I like to stand where I can see the puck, and that's usually a good spot for me," he says.
Basically, he adopts an attitude that if he can see the shot, he will stop it
"Well, that's the idea," he says, laughing.
But perhaps the most telling secret to his success is what he does away from the ice. He likes to relax by listening to music and playing the guitar, jamming with tennis legend John McEnroe with their cover band The Noise Upstairs at a February charity event. He also is part owner of TriBeCa restaurant Tiny's.
"There's a lot of pressure, so you have to think about other things to get your mind off it," says the famously fashionable Lundqvist, who also admittedly thinks a lot about the clothes he wears, often sitting for photo shoots and modeling pricey suits in the locker room after games.
In January, he launched Crown Collection, an apparel line he designed that benefits the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
This July, Lundqvist will add another healthy distraction to his balanced life when his wife, Therese, gives birth to their first child.
Perhaps, it is suggested, their baby could drink some milk from the Cup.
"Hopefully," he says. "That would definitely be nice."
Raised in a hamlet of 800, Henrik Lundqvist has embraced—and been embraced by—a city of eight million. Just imagine if the Swedish goalie helps the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup in 18 years
For one night in February, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's value to the Rangers' fans came down to dollars instead of wins. "One thousand. Do I hear two?" Standing on a stage at Gotham Hall the All-Star, clad in a tuxedo, held up his signed jersey for 500 prospective bidders as the price kept going up. "O.K., three. Now we have four." An auctioned item from Lundqvist had brought in the greatest haul for three years running at the team's annual casino night, a swank affair that raises money for the team's Garden of Dreams Foundation. "It's now five. And we're up to six." This season, with a career-high 39 wins, Lundqvist has also lifted New York to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. "Do I hear eight?" Behind their dashing 30-year-old goalie, the Rangers have a real shot at winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup since 1994. "Sold! For ninety-five hundred!"
Lundqvist was money all season, a contender for both the Vezina and Hart trophies who ranked among the top five in save percentage (.930), goals-against (1.97) and shutouts (eight). He was at his best in Philadelphia on April 3, when he turned back 37 shots to complete a six-game season sweep of the division-rival Flyers and clinch the East with a 5--3 victory—seizing home-ice advantage in what will be a wide-open playoffs (page 40). His best save came on a point shot from Marc-André Bourdon early in the second period that deflected off Philly's Scott Hartnell, hit Lundqvist's leg pad and popped over his right shoulder, seemingly headed for an empty net before he lunged backward and knocked it over the crossbar with his blocker. "We wouldn't be where we are today," says New York winger Ryan Callahan, "without the best goalie in the league."
While Lundqvist has become the toast of the town—a sought-after guest at the most exclusive affairs—on Oct. 13, 2005, he was a nervous 23-year-old rookie from a microscopic Swedish village when he made his Madison Square Garden debut. "It's different on that ice in front of those people," he says. "My mind was racing." He flashed back to his first game at the Garden in 2001, watching from the stands a year after New York drafted him in the seventh round, 205th overall. The Rangers were then in the throes of a prolonged sleepwalk, when they went seven seasons without a playoff game, and the Garden ice was a spittoon for fans' vitriol. "Booing, booing, booing," he laughs. "Four years later, it's me out there for the first time. I really wanted their approval. You shouldn't worry if people like you, but I really did. I still do."
Lundqvist outdueled Martin Brodeur—then the best goalie in the game—and beat the Devils 4--1 that night, only New York's fourth win in 42 matches against New Jersey. After the game, Lundqvist received a nice ovation from the crowd when he was announced as the game's first star. But it wasn't until his second game at the Garden, two days later against the Thrashers, when the affection between goalie and city became palpable. Late during a brilliant night in the net, Lundqvist gave up an unlucky, bad-angle goal after it bounced off a teammate's skate. A 4--0 Rangers lead was now 4--1. The crowd stood, but instead of booing, it chanted, in a Gotham-inflected serenade, "Hen-REEK! Hen-REEK!" He was thrown. "That's not for me, is it?" he asked himself. "I just got here." Ten minutes after New York's 5--1 win, he again circled the ice as the game's first star, clapped for the crowd's generosity and tossed his stick into the stands. In a morass of mediocrity, here was brio, moxie and star power. Imagine what might happen if the organization ever put a team around him?
Sure, other clubs in other cities have ridden their goalies' coattails all the way to a Cup, but rarely are those coattails as well-tailored; Lundqvist's sense of style is as refined as his game. In New York's carnivorous sporting press, he is known as The King, a blue-eyed wunderkind from a Scandinavian hamlet of 800 people embraced by a metropolis of eight million. Whether jamming with his band, chilling in his TriBeCa restaurant, posing for a spread in Vogue or just walking his dog in Central Park, he has both embraced and invigorated his adopted hometown in the same way that Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Reggie Jackson did. "New York fits him," says Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg, a fellow Swede. "He wears it well, like his suits. The culture, the food, the fashion. About the people he tells only good stories. He could not play anywhere else.... If he wins [the Cup], just give him the key."
Henrik and Joel Lundqvist, twin brothers and mutual antagonists, began skating together in a flooded sandbox near their home in the tiny ski village of Åre (pronounced OAR-eh), 220 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Their father, Peter, was a ski instructor who later became a tourism office manager. Their mother, Eva Johansson, was a physical therapist, and their older sister, Gabriella, was a standout tennis player. Besides skiing, Åre was known for its clean air, making it a haven for people who suffer from asthma. The town's only toy store was a few shelves in the back of a flower shop, and the elementary school combined students from two grades in order to fill classes. The movie theater was a school gym the size of a badminton court. Winter darkness arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon. "[Henrik and I] started with hockey because we had to play a team sport," Joel recalls. "We won and lost together, and when we lost we ran screaming into the woods. If we skied or played tennis, one could be better than the other, so we just couldn't. It would have been war." Board games among the Lundqvist siblings were often aborted when the first one out began tossing dice across the room.
It was at hockey practice one day when the boys were eight that Henrik stared wistfully at a pair of large pads, but he didn't speak up when the coach asked for goaltending volunteers. "I was always a shy kid," he says. "The spotlight was not for me. I hated when we had to stand in front of the class and talk." So Joel raised Henrik's hand. "I knew he wanted to wear those pads because he liked the look," Joel says. Even then Henrik was accessorizing.
Henrik debuted with the Göteborg-based Frolunda Indians as an 18-year-old, the same year he played on Sweden's world junior team. He wasn't the first Lundqvist to cross the Atlantic to the U.S. Gabriella, three years older, played tennis for Sacramento State from 2001 to '02 and now works near Sacramento as a financial adviser. Two generations earlier Henrik's grandfather Hilmar Lundqvist was captain of a cruise ship that sailed between New York and Göteborg. On one of the voyages Hilmar's wife, Ingrid, Sweden's first female ski instructor, gave birth to a son, Tomas (Henrik's uncle), not far from Manhattan.
Henrik's rookie season should have been 2004--05, but the lockout kept him home. Ten NHL goalies spent that year playing in the Swedish Elite League and Lundqvist bested them all, leading Frolunda to a title while allowing just 15 goals in 14 playoff games.
In the middle of his first NHL campaign, Lundqvist traveled to Turin to restore Swedish hockey's self-esteem. In 2002, Sweden had lost in the Olympic quarterfinals to Belarus, an international paperweight, when a shot from center ice bounced into the net off goalie Tommy Salo's face mask in the closing minutes. A headline in one Swedish paper read: CRIMES AGAINST THE STATE. But against Finland in the final at the 2006 Games, to date the biggest moment of his career, Lundqvist made 25 saves, including a spread-eagle stop against Olli Jokinen with 30 seconds to play and his team ahead 3--2 to preserve Sweden's gold medal. Jokinen was so sure he had scored that he raised his stick in premature celebration. Lundqvist had saved a country but was still coming to terms with a city.
The assimilation to life in New York wasn't easy for Lundqvist. As the Rangers requested of all their young players, he lived outside the city, in White Plains, N.Y., during his rookie season with his future wife, Therese. "It was really isolating," says Lundqvist, whose first purchases in New York were a guitar and a harmonica. "A few times I asked myself if I had really made the right choice to come over."
Once he moved to Manhattan in the summer of '06, Lundqvist reveled in the city's varied cultural menu of shows, movies, restaurants and side streets. "I can't see him as, say, a Calgary Flame," says Rangers center Mike Rupp. "It just wouldn't look right." Lundqvist and Therese, who is expecting the couple's first child this summer, live in Manhattan 10 months a year. His accent is unmistakably Nordic, but his vibe is less Malmö than SoHo. "I'm more comfortable being recognized here than in Sweden," he says, "because the same people who say hi today know they will see somebody more interesting than me tomorrow. I just love the passion here. Every day you see people who are striving for something that's important to them." Two and a half years ago, when contractors remodeling the Lundqvists' Hell's Kitchen apartment dragged their work into training camp, a neighbor in the building offered the couple a spare bedroom for a few days. They wound up staying until the stalled project finally finished two months later. "Those are my neighbors," Lundqvist says. "That's my New York."
Earlier this winter, Lundqvist noticed a parrot among the pigeons perched on his balcony. "He looked cold, so we took him inside, sat him on our shoulders and let him sleep in the guest room," Lundqvist says. "The next day this woman downstairs was crying about her missing parrot she'd had for 13 years, and Therese gave her the good news."
Lundqvist has modeled for photo spreads in Vogue, made an apple dessert on The Martha Stewart Show and made a cameo appearance on Letterman to help with the Top Ten list. ("Who can concentrate on hockey when Jennifer Aniston still hasn't found love?") He is part owner of a cozy and cool restaurant in TriBeCa called Tiny's & the Bar Upstairs. In 2006, PEOPLE named him one of its 100 Most Beautiful People, though his twin missed the list. "Probably 101," Henrik says. Last year, the Garden crowd began razzing teen idol Justin Bieber when his face appeared on the JumboTron while he was sitting courtside at a Knicks game. The jeering ceased, however, when the camera panned to Lundqvist in the next seat. At a benefit concert this year, Lundqvist played guitar alongside John McEnroe in a band called The Noise Upstairs. The event raised more than $48,000 for the Garden of Dreams, which Lundqvist vigorously supports.
Once he had established himself on the ice, Lundqvist resolved to serve his new community and latched onto the Garden of Dreams, the brainchild of the MSG brass. In 2009 he became its chief spokesman. Lundqvist has hosted skate parties after Rangers practices in Tarrytown, N.Y., munched popcorn at Radio City Music Hall with a group he took to the Christmas show, sat in fire trucks with children of 9/11 victims, hosted museum tours and dealt blackjack at casino night. He sold his mask from January's Winter Classic for $35,000 and launched an apparel line for the foundation. His efforts this season have raised more than $100,000.
He traces his sense of duty back to 2002--03, his third season with Frolunda. Lundqvist had visited a 10-year-old boy afflicted with terminal cancer in a Göteborg hospital. He remembers the boy, who passed away later the same week, struggling to brighten up for his visit. A few days later Lundqvist received a letter from the boy's mother telling him that he had at least allowed her son to die happy, which was the most they could have asked. "It kind of changed me," he says. "We have this great life, and so fast it can change. It's not that I didn't know that before, but you just appreciate every moment."
Lundqvist has flipped the fortunes of Brodeur, the alltime wins leader, who has never sought the celebrity his résumé warranted. Brodeur once told SI he thought Lundqvist's style was "weird," and even his compliments are sometimes freighted with sarcasm. After Lundqvist shut out the Devils on Feb. 27, Brodeur remarked, "It's a nice matchup to play against the top goalie in the league. He's a guy who's put on a pedestal for a reason." Brodeur has cause for envy. Before Lundqvist arrived, Brodeur once played 23 straight games without a loss against New York. Today, Lundqvist has the best mark against Brodeur (23-6-5) of any netminder.
Lundqvist is a butterfly goaltender who sets up far back in his crease and relies on his own technique more than his knowledge of shooters' tendencies. To goalies who like to scramble and sprawl—like Brodeur—butterfly practitioners who minimize their movements are seen as blockers, preferring to let pucks hit them rather than proactively make a save. It's an unfair assessment.
Lundqvist's record in shootouts, an apt barometer of goaltending skill, is a robust 41--27. His .763 save percentage in 262 shootout attempts is the highest ever among goalies who have faced at least 125 shots. Lundqvist's penchant for turning back penalty shots led to his save of the season, a pad stop on Flyers winger Danny Briere with 19.6 seconds left in the Winter Classic. During the game, microphones from HBO, which was recording the players for 24/7, caught Philly sniper Claude Giroux pleading, "Henrik, let me score one tonight. Just one."
His reflexes and his post-to-post coverage are excellent. His wide, knock-kneed stance, almost an upside-down V, makes him look bigger than his 6'1" frame even as he crouches, and because he interprets plays so efficiently, he rarely overcompensates for a deke or lateral pass. "I've always stood really low," Lundqvist says. "Now if the play isn't right in front of me, I try to be more upright." Even in recent weeks, he's adjusted his stance to help him make saves from more stable positions instead of in motion.
His deep position in the crease makes him tough to beat on wraparounds and helps him to spot playmakers such as Sidney Crosby, who like to feed swooping wingers from behind the net. Lundqvist has also worked this year on keeping his glove up to prevent high shortside shots from sneaking through. He doesn't care for obstacles in front of his face—whether opponents' sticks or his own equipment—so he'll sometimes bonk softer shots away with his head, like a soccer player, rather than use his blocker. Coaches would prefer Lundqvist take some heat off his defensemen by corralling more of the pucks that wind around the boards, but he is a notoriously poor puckhandler. He puts it more succinctly: "I suck." He prefers discretion to, say, the mad adventures of Patrick Roy.
He is the only goalie in NHL history with at least 30 wins in each of his first seven seasons. But last spring, after backup Martin Biron went down with a broken collarbone, Lundqvist made 26 starts to end the season and looked fatigued in a five-game, first-round loss to the Capitals. Lundqvist had averaged 70.6 games the previous five seasons and often entered the playoffs tired. Rangers coach John Tortorella reduced his workload to 62 this year.
Lundqvist has often struggled to find the elusive nexus of concentration and relaxation. "He's so competitive," says New York forward Brandon Dubinsky. "If I score on him in practice, it feels like winning the Stanley Cup." In Lundqvist's first NHL playoff series, against the Devils in 2006, he was having trouble tracking pucks, especially when he moved laterally. Doctors found he was suffering migraines and blurred vision from grinding his teeth. "I tried everything: contacts, relaxing my jaw muscles," he says. "I thought it was my heart or my brain at first." To deal with his problems, he began taking medication, which he dropped this season. His pregame routine, from the way he tapes his stick to his choice in music—the punk-pop band Blink 182—is nonnegotiable. Even Tortorella leaves him alone. Despite his intense pregame focus, Lundqvist sometimes catches himself daydreaming on the ice. "Between whistles I'll think about my wife, or maybe my parents coming into town," he says. "I lose my thought and my mind will go where I don't expect it."
Since former captain Mark Messier's first departure, in 1997, the Rangers have often been an amalgam of undersized, overhyped parts. Before the playoff series last season, Washington coach Bruce Boudreau was asked if there was anything about the Rangers that concerned him. Boudreau simply said, "Their goalie." Asked if there was anything else, he repeated, "Their goalie." New York then undid itself with silly mistakes. In the first game Capitals forward Jason Arnott picked off defenseman Marc Staal's clearing pass and set up the overtime winner. In a double-overtime loss in Game 4, Lundqvist tried to smother a loose puck only to have Rangers forward Marian Gaborik wrest it from him. The puck landed on the stick of Washington winger Jason Chimera, who scored the winner.
This year's Rangers, who face the Senators in the first round, are more reliable, ornery and resourceful, ranking fourth in the NHL in blocked shots and leading the league in fights and hits. Lundqvist thrives behind a disruptive defense that moves pucks quickly and clutters opposing passing lanes with active sticks. With stunning maturity, New York's blue line corps—all 11 who have played this year are under 30—has flourished even after lengthy concussion injuries to Staal and Michael Sauer.
To spark the sputtering offense last month, Tortorella moved speedy Carl Hagelin onto the wing alongside Brad Richards, a veteran center with a high hockey IQ, and Gaborik, the Rangers' leading scorer. The top line produced 39 points over the final 14 games. Tortorella's move of center Derek Stepan to the point has given life to a once dormant power play, though it still finished 23rd in the league. (New York doesn't have the Penguins' scoring depth, but neither does anyone else.) Workaholic captain Ryan Callahan sells himself out going after loose pucks. "Our biggest strength," Lundqvist says, "is in the locker room, the way we play for one another."
That belief helped the Rangers win 51 games, their highest total since they won the Presidents' Trophy in 1994, and then the Cup. The pictures of the victory parade that hang along the walls at the team's training facility steal Lundqvist's easily distracted mind each day at practice. City Hall, confetti and a million New Yorkers. "To do that in New York, wow, I can't even...." He pauses, as if searching for the right words. "Sorry," he says, "I was just thinking about it."
The photo below is of Henrik Lundqvist being interviewed by Ken Baker of E News at the Rangers practice facility today. No word on when this segment will air. I'll make sure to post the date as soon as I find further details.
How does everyone feel about Henrik wearing Skinny jeans? We know he likes them, but we rarely get to see him in them until now...
The Rangers’ MVP, voted on by the New York Rangers media, was awarded to Henrik Lundqvist. This is the sixth consecutive year that Lundqvist has won the award, which marks a franchise record. In addition, his six Rangers’ MVP awards ties him with Brian Leetch for the most in franchise history.
Lundqvist has posted a record of 39-17-5 this season, along with a 1.93 goals against average, .931 save percentage and eight shutouts. He is currently tied for second in the NHL in goals against average and third in shutouts, while ranking third in the league in wins and save percentage. His 39 wins mark a career-high, and ranks second all-time on the Rangers’ single season wins list.
Less than two hours before they were to play the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers could not find Henrik Lundqvist. They called his cellphone, but it had been turned off. They called his wife, Therese, who said he had left their Midtown apartment.
On game days, Lundqvist follows an elaborate set of rituals, refined over his years playing in the N.H.L. and in his native Sweden. He knows precisely when he must wake from his nap, when he must eat and when he must arrive at the rink. He listens to the same music, heavy on punk rock, as he tapes his sticks and stretches his limbs. He checks, then double-checks his equipment: his skates, his pads, his gloves. He sits in his stall. He does not talk.
For Lundqvist, to feel unprepared is to feel uncomfortable — and for a goalie, nothing is worse than feeling uncomfortable.
He entered the locker room as the pregame meeting was about to end. He walked in feeling calm and relaxed. Then he realized that he had miscalculated by an hour. He had only 45 minutes until warm-ups. He did not feel comfortable anymore.
Coach John Tortorella asked Lundqvist if he was ready. Lundqvist said he was. You better be, Tortorella told him.
Late in the first period, Lundqvist stuffed Scott Hartnell on a breakaway. He faced 29 shots in all. He stopped all of them as the Rangers won, 2-0.
On that day, Nov. 26, early in what has been his finest season, Lundqvist was ready. His family, friends and teammates say that he has, in fact, been preparing for this season since he was a boy, when, on the way to games, his father would ask him to visualize positive outcomes.
“He wants to be the best, so he’s the best,” the Rangers’ backup goalie Martin Biron said. “If all you have is one day, one game, one shot, he can do it.”
Entering Saturday night’s regular-season finale against the Washington Capitals, Lundqvist was a leading candidate to win the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top goaltender. He had posted a .931 save percentage, a 1.93 goals-against, a career-high 39 victories and 8 shutouts for the Rangers, who have earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 1994.
The Rangers crave more, as does Lundqvist, owner of Olympic gold but foiled thus far in his quest for Stanley Cup silver.
“He feels that he’s been here long enough,” center Brandon Dubinsky said. “I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but we haven’t accomplished anything here, and he wants to accomplish something here. That’s important to him. That drives him every day.”
That emptiness drove Lundqvist last summer, when he lost 13 pounds, skated more (with new, more efficient skates), trained harder. The outcome has been a span of brilliance appreciated in hockey circles but overshadowed locally by Eli Manning and the Super Bowl-winning Giants, Jeremy Lin and now Tim Tebow.
Surrounded by his best supporting cast in seven seasons with the Rangers, Lundqvist has found balance, enjoying personal fulfillment with his professional success. He married last August. He turned 30 in March. His first child is due this summer.
It all can get a man thinking, and Lundqvist is a man who thinks. When emphasizing a point, he uses not his voice but his entire face. His head tilts forward. His eyes widen to pools of blue.
“The first three years, it was a lot about proving to everybody else that I should be here, that I should play in this league,” Lundqvist said in an interview last month at the team’s practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. “But now it’s about proving to myself. I want to be good. I want to play better.”
The former Rangers goalie Mike Richter said Lundqvist’s attitude reminded him of a sentiment expressed by Wayne Gretzky, who considered himself a far better player at 28 than he was at 23 because he was tougher and more mentally resilient.
“Your body diminishes over time, but goaltenders often get better as they get older,” said Richter, who led the Rangers to their 1994 title. “You know yourself better. You know how to respond. That’s the deal when the franchise is relying on you.”
If anything, the Rangers are guilty of depending on Lundqvist too much. In years past, he played so often — four straight seasons of at least 70 appearances, then 68 last season — that he was not as fresh during the playoffs. Though the Rangers have reached the playoffs every season except 2009-10 since Lundqvist arrived in 2005, they have not won a postseason series in four years.
“The clock is ticking,” said Lundqvist, who had played 61 games this season. “You don’t know how many more chances you’re going to get.”
Envisioning the Future
L-R, Henrik, Gabriella & Joel
Are (pronounced OAR-eh), a small town in northwestern Sweden, is a world-class ski resort in a hockey-crazed country. Mountains were readily accessible. Ice rinks were not. So the children of Peter Lundqvist and Eva Johansson — Gabriella, Henrik and his identical twin, Joel — improvised, shoveling the snow off the lake near their home to skate on it.
For competitive hockey, Henrik and Joel had to travel to Jarpen, about 30 minutes east. It was during one of those car rides that a 9-year-old Henrik started plotting his future. As Gabriella tells the story, their grandmother was driving the boys to practice when Henrik, suddenly serious, said: “No one’s going to find me if I’m staying here. I’m not going to get discovered here. I need to get out of this little place.”
Typical Henrik — always dreaming, striving, wanting more. He even competed in utero, jockeying for space with Joel. Henrik arrived first, on March 2, 1982, and Joel arrived 40 minutes later. It was, the family came to joke, the longest they ever spent apart.
Now he is called Hank, or the King, or King Henrik, or HEN-Reek, as go the rhythmic chants at the Garden. But growing up, he was so inseparable from his brother that he was Joelandhenrik. When Joel was 2, he had a severe coughing fit that necessitated a two-day hospital stay. Henrik was inconsolable, refusing to eat, Gabriella said.
“We were almost like the same person,” Joel said.
Both dabbled in tennis. Both starred in soccer, Joel as a forward and Henrik as a goalkeeper, same as in hockey. And both hated to lose. Family board games ended in tears or fights, if they ended at all. Once, Joel said, when the twins were 5, they lost in either soccer or street hockey (Joel couldn’t remember), and they reacted by running into the woods and hiding. Lundqvist’s competitive streak is so intense, his former teammate Brendan Shanahan said, “most psychiatrists would say he’s not healthy.” Imagine how Lundqvist felt his first two times playing goal in an organized hockey game. His team, Jarpens IF, lost, 12-2 and 18-0.
At the first practice with Jarpens IF, players were asked who wanted to play goal. Joel grabbed Henrik’s hand and raised it. At first, Lundqvist was drawn to the position by the armor: gloves, a mask and a set of heavy brown pads that he thought were pretty cool. It soon became an obsession. In sewing class, he knitted a pillow shaped like a goalie. He built a goal with pieces of old wood. He watched videos of his favorite Swedish goalie, Peter Lindmark, and two paragons of N.H.L. excellence, Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek, incorporating elements of Roy’s butterfly and Hasek’s unorthodox style.
Only later — after the family settled in Bastad in southern Sweden, and after the boys moved, at 16, to Gothenburg so they could play for junior-level squads of the Swedish Elite League team Vastra Frolunda — did Gabriella, older by three and a half years, come to realize why goaltending so appealed to Henrik.
“He was very good at just worrying about himself, and I don’t mean that in a selfish way,” Gabriella said. “All his focus is in the right place, not worrying about things you can’t control.”
For someone so attached to his brother, Lundqvist embraced the solitude of the position. He loved practicing breakaways. He enjoyed the pressure. He welcomed being the last bastion of defense, just him and the net. Changing lines was for defensemen and forwards, like Joel, who went on to play for three years in the N.H.L.
Goalies were always on the ice — the good ones, at least.
L-R, Joel, Henrik & Gabriella
A Sleeper Pick
The question is an obvious one, after 252 N.H.L. career victories, three All-Star selections and an Olympic gold medal: how was Lundqvist taken so late in the 2000 N.H.L. draft, in the seventh round with the 205th overall pick, the 22nd goalie chosen?
“As you get deeper into the draft, you’re basically looking for anyone with a heartbeat who can stand up and skate,” said Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney, who was the Rangers’ assistant general manager in 2000. “You’re never thinking, ‘Let’s wait until the seventh round to draft our franchise goaltender.’ You’re just throwing darts.”
Maloney posed what might be a better question: what would have happened that June day in Calgary, Alberta, had he looked right instead of left?
Every draft has its presumptive can’t-miss kids, the Sidney Crosbys and Alexander Ovechkins and Steven Stamkoses. Once the elite prospects are gone, teams lean on the wisdom and intuition of scouts who have traversed countries and continents searching for top talent. One shrewd late-round pick — a Pavel Datsyuk, a Luc Robitaille, a Henrik Zetterberg — can forever change a franchise.
“It’s not like the N.F.L. draft, where you’re dealing with college kids that are 22 years old, who are developed mentally and physically,” said Jim Nill, the assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, who drafted Datsyuk and Zetterberg in late rounds in successive years. “There are so many changes that take place over the years, so you’re sitting there trying to project. You’re wondering, for example, ‘Which Henrik Lundqvist is the Henrik Lundqvist we’re going to see at age 25?’ ”
The Henrik Lundqvist scouts observed at 18 had loads of natural ability, sharp reflexes and a strong work ethic augmented by his competitive spirit, but he lacked consistency. Martin Madden, then the Rangers’ chief scout, watched Lundqvist in two tournaments in early 2000 and came away unimpressed.
“I don’t want to say he was ordinary,” Madden said, “but he was just O.K.”
Christer Rockstrom, then the team’s head European scout, held a different perspective. Living in Sweden, Rockstrom saw Lundqvist play more regularly and rated him No. 1 on the Rangers’ list of eligible European goalies. Rockstrom pushed for the Rangers to draft Lundqvist in the middle rounds, but Madden overruled him, thinking it too early.
But in the sixth round or so, Maloney turned to his right, to Rockstrom. This was long after the Islanders had used the first overall pick to take goalie Rick DiPietro, who through Friday had 135 fewer wins and had played 177 fewer games than Lundqvist in his injury-plagued N.H.L. career. This was after Joel Lundqvist had gone to Dallas in the third round, and after the Rangers had selected a goalie, Brandon Snee from Union College, in the fifth. Maloney grabbed the list. Henrik Lundqvist was not highlighted, signifying that he was available.
“Is that your top goalie in Europe?” Maloney asked Rockstrom.
“Yeah,” Rockstrom said, “but Martin didn’t like him.”
Maloney leaned toward Madden, sitting at his left, and said: “We’re looking for a goalie. Why wouldn’t we take a flier on him?”
“Yeah, fine,” Madden said.
And with that, Lundqvist was a Ranger. About six months later, at the World Junior Championships in Russia, Lundqvist changed Madden’s mind. Leading Sweden to a fourth-place finish, Lundqvist had improved from head (poise) to toe (quickness), resembling in Madden’s estimation “a completely different goalie.”
The evolution continued in the summer of 2001, when for the first time, Lundqvist, then 19, worked with a personal goalie coach, Michael Lehner. Lehner was not a normal goalie coach. He had never played hockey. His background was in a full-contact style of karate called Kyokushin. But when his son, Robin, who now plays in the Ottawa Senators’ system, became interested in goaltending, Lehner devoted his life to teaching him.
Drawing on stances that he used in Kyokushin, Lehner applied his martial-arts training to building the perfect goalie, fundamentally sound and mentally unshakable. In Lundqvist, Lehner found a worthy test subject.
Lehner ripped up his backyard, installing concrete and a machine that shot puck after puck at Lundqvist. On-ice workouts featured Lehner’s yelling at him to compete for every puck, to cut down angles, to challenge shooters on breakaways.
Lehner’s tactics were physically grueling, but the sessions tested Lundqvist’s mind even more. Lehner frequently told him that he was not good enough, and that yielding one goal was one too many.
“Sometimes, I was a little bit mean to him,” Lehner said. “I wanted him to get upset with me and really show me that he was better than I said he was.”
Lundqvist appreciated Lehner’s urgency, how every instruction seemed appended by “or else.” He said he “really connected” with Lehner, who from 2001 to 2005 drove around Sweden to watch Lundqvist’s games. He would sit in the stands taking notes; afterward they would deconstruct Lundqvist’s performance.
Lehner said a turning point in Lundqvist’s development occurred during the fall of 2002, when Frolunda signed Fredrik Norrena, who started for the Finnish national team. On a bench in Frolunda’s practice arena, Lundqvist sulked. He did not want to be a backup. Lehner told Lundqvist he did not have to.
In practice, Lundqvist made sure to face one more puck than Norrena. Then, five. Then, 10. Then it was Lundqvist overtaking Norrena, guiding Frolunda to its first Elite League championship in 38 years and winning his first of three consecutive Honken Trophies, given to the Swedish goaltender of the year.
His third trophy came in 2004-5, when dozens of locked-out N.H.L. players flocked to European leagues. Lundqvist outclassed established goalies like Miikka Kiprusoff and Jose Theodore to lead the league in save percentage (.936) and goals against average (1.79). In the playoffs, he was even better, recording six shutouts in 14 games, allowing only 15 goals, as Frolunda captured another title.
“I’m thinking, ‘Can I make it in the N.H.L.?’ ” Lundqvist said. “And then all those guys from the N.H.L. come over and play against me. I had my best year, and I’m like, ‘I can do this.’ ”
The Rangers agreed, impressed with his handling of celebrity status in Sweden and his success for club and country. But even as Lundqvist projected confidence in training camp in 2005, outshining Al Montoya to win a backup job, doubt raged inside.
At times, reflecting on the good life he left behind in Sweden, he asked himself, “What have I done?” For a Swedish rookie goalie adjusting to more skillful opponents, increased traffic in front of the net and a smaller ice surface, the transition was at once invigorating and intimidating.
Even as Lundqvist thrived, capitalizing on an injury to the starter Kevin Weekes to win three of his first four starts, every game was an experiment of sorts.
Accustomed to roaming outside the crease, Lundqvist, at the request of his new goalie coach, Benoit Allaire, began playing a more conservative style, deeper in the net. The switch maximized Lundqvist’s quickness, one of his main assets, and enabled him to glide from post to post with an economy of movement. Allaire, regarded as one of the top goalie coaches in the N.H.L., teaches the virtues of patience, imploring his students to maintain their positioning — in the middle of the net, at an angle that defends optimum space — instead of moving forward to chase the puck.
“It was a very radical change in a very short amount of time,” Weekes said. “I’m honestly not sure how he was able to implement it so quickly.”
Do something enough times, Lundqvist said, and it feels natural. To hone his new approach, he would spend 30 minutes on the ice with Allaire before practice. Steve Valiquette, his backup for parts of four seasons, said Lundqvist would prepare for practices as if they were games.
“You could see the intensity in his eyes before we’d go on the ice,” Valiquette said.
Over time, Lundqvist’s intensity has never wavered, but his style has evolved. If an onrushing forward seems likely to fire a slap shot from the wing, Lundqvist will drift to the top of the crease. If in that same situation he senses a pass coming, he may move back a few inches so he can slide easily across the crease to prepare for a potential shot.
Valiquette said he had never seen or played with a goalie better than Lundqvist, in large part because Lundqvist always seems square to the shooter.
The former N.H.L. goaltender Darren Pang, an analyst for TSN and the St. Louis Blues, said: “It’s amazing watching Henrik, because when he does get beat, he gets beat by pretty darn good shots. Very seldom do pucks go through him, or does he end up overcommitting. It makes it very hard to get a breakdown on how to beat him.”
Compared with many other N.H.L. goalies, Lundqvist, at 6 feet 1 inch, is of average height. But because he favors a more upright position, he appears far larger to the shooter.
“You see him in street clothes, and you’re like, ‘This is the same guy?’ ” said Zetterberg, who was on the ice for Sweden for Lundqvist’s defining moment of the 2006 Olympics, an acrobatic stick save on Olli Jokinen that preserved a 3-2 victory against Finland in the gold medal game. “He stands up so tall that it’s tough to see any net behind him.”
Pucks do slip past Lundqvist. Even in practice, being scored on infuriates him. Just ask wing Mats Zuccarello, whose celebration one recent morning in Greenburgh was interrupted by a puck struck by Lundqvist smacking the glass behind him, missing his head by a few feet.
Former teammates tell stories of Lundqvist’s breaking golf clubs and trashing locker rooms after bad performances, but he said his swings in emotion were not so extreme anymore.
However comfortable he had been living in a city that nourishes his varied interests — fashion, music, philanthropy — Lundqvist said he was more at peace with himself than ever before. Hiring a business manager, Adam Campbell, reduced distractions and simplified his life off the ice, allowing Lundqvist to concentrate on being a Lamborghini-driving soon-to-be dad who also happens to be a virtuoso at stopping frozen disks of vulcanized rubber, sometimes with his head.
Unwinding after and between games has become easier for Lundqvist, who often plays one of his many guitars — usually acoustic, so as not to disturb the neighbors — to help him decompress. When time allows, he jams with his band, the Noise Upstairs, which includes John McEnroe and Jay Weinberg, son of Max Weinberg, the longtime drummer for the E Street Band. Shopping was a popular pastime when his friend Sean Avery played for the Rangers. Avery, who is a co-owner with Lundqvist of the Tribeca restaurant Tiny’s, said he picked out most of the shoes in Therese’s closet.
“I was wasting so much energy because I was so focused, if not 24-7, then almost,” said Lundqvist, who is in the fourth year of a six-year, $41.2 million contract extension. “Especially if you want to have a good run in the playoffs, you need to relax. You need to save your energy for what matters.”
Still, certain goals, certain games, stay with him like tattoos. He thinks about when, at 13, he gave up the winning goal in sudden-death overtime in the finals of a prestigious tournament. He thinks about a defeat in Philadelphia on the final day of the 2009-10 regular season, with both the Rangers and the Flyers needing a victory to reach the playoffs. Lundqvist made 46 saves across regulation and overtime, but the Rangers were eliminated when the Flyers won in the shootout, 2-1.
“That was one of the tougher losses of my career,” he said. “You work the whole year and then you lose the whole season.”
Rising to the Top
About a half-hour before they were to play the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia last Tuesday, the Rangers knew exactly where Henrik Lundqvist was: in goal, preparing for his 10th consecutive start.
His performance over the previous nine games — a 6-3 record, .910 save percentage, 2.20 goals against — hardly signified failure. But with the playoffs edging closer and the Rangers needing 1 point to secure the Eastern Conference title, Lundqvist yearned to regain top form.
“The thing with Hankie,” his backup Biron said, “when he puts his mind to do it, he can do anything.”
So, he did.
First, a wicked glove save from up close on Wayne Simmonds, who skated away shaking his head. Next, a contortionist’s delight: while falling backward, Lundqvist flicked his blocker to poke a fluttering puck over the crossbar.
The Flyers’ first goal caromed in off Marc Staal’s skate. The second was tapped in after Lundqvist landed on his right forearm while stopping a slap shot.
His arm throbbing so badly that he advised Biron to get ready, Lundqvist, barely able to grip his stick, made 13 more saves in the third period. The final two came one right after the other, as he kicked away a Hartnell wrister toward Simmonds, who batted the puck in midair — and into Lundqvist’s glove as the Rangers held on for a 5-3 victory.
“Pure reaction,” Lundqvist said, with a slight shrug. “Nothing more.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
This, after all, has been the Season of Hank, an affirmation and celebration of his place among New York’s sports royalty. In the quiet of the visitors’ locker room in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, after most of his teammates had scattered, Lundqvist reflected on the last seven months.
A season that began in Sweden, where he choked back tears during a ceremony before an exhibition game against Frolunda and Joel, the team’s captain. A season that reinforced how the Rangers reflected Lundqvist’s personality — determined, unflappable, ambitious. A season that showcased Lundqvist on the national stage at the Winter Classic, the All-Star Game and on HBO as the most indispensable player on the best team in the conference. A season that begins anew this week, in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“This,” Lundqvist said, “has been an amazing year.”
He knew it would be. In late August, soon after his wedding and shortly before training camp, he and Gabriella spoke over the phone. He told her what he was going to do this season.
“I’m going to be the best,” Lundqvist said.
Taken aback by his boldness, Gabriella asked him what he meant.
“I’m going to be the best,” Lundqvist said. “And that’s that.”
Here are the scans of the second King Magazine I purchased on eBay. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could translate this interview and the previous one I posted. I would, of course, give credit to the translator.