September 30, 2020

A goodbye letter to the King, Henrik Lundqvist

Lundqvist, Forever a NYR (THN)

Henrik,

It’s rare, but every so often, there is a player who transcends the game. Who builds a home in your heart and defines an entire era of what it means to be a fan of your favorite team. A player who simply changes you. That is who you have been to me the past 15 years.

15 years is a long time. It’s a long time for anything in life. You left everything out on the ice for us for 15 years on the biggest stage, under the brightest lights. Knowing I will look back on my life and be able to say I watched the King play in all his glory is more than I could ever ask for from the sport I love most. On any given night, it felt like the Rangers could beat anyone, we always had a chance, as long as you were in the crease. And isn’t that what being a sports fan is all about? Feeling like, even for just a few hours, you’re part of something magical.

Love and Admiration for Henrik Lundqvist

henrik lundqvist tribute
Salute to Henrik Lundqvist (Getty Images)

Fans everywhere love you, your teammates and coaches admire you, your opponents fear and respect you, the game of hockey is better because of you. Your career speaks for itself: 887 games played, 459 wins, a 2.43 GAA, 918 SV%, 64 shutouts, a Vezina trophy, a two-time All Star, two-time Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award winner, 50 franchise records. The greatest seventh round pick in NHL history. But to the fans of New York, you are so much more than that. You’re the face of our franchise and our unwavering leader. Our most valuable player.

I’ll miss hearing Sam Rosen yell “Save by Lundqvist!” I’ll miss your helmet saves. I’ll miss your post-game interviews and your prestigious sense of fashion. I’ll miss watching you throw your arms in the air in celebration after every win. I’ll miss chanting “HEN-RIK, HEN-RIK” and how it felt to be in the stands when that sound filled the greatest arena in the world. I’ll miss it all. I don’t know a Rangers team without you.

Thank you Henrik!

Thank you will never be enough, but I’ll say it anyway. For every time you carried the team on your shoulders, single-handedly leading us to victory; every moment you left me staring at my TV in awe, wondering how you just made that save. For spraying Crosby in the face with your water bottle. For the unforgettable 2014 Stanley Cup playoff run. For your dedication to the Garden of Dreams Foundation, the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation, and the city of New York. For being the player on the ice who wanted to win more than anyone. Thank you for every sacrifice you made. Thank you for your greatness. For everything. You did it all with grace, humility, tenacity, and without a single strand of your perfect hair out of place. 

I know all good things must come to an end, I know it’s a business, and I knew this day would come eventually, but it hasn’t sunk in yet that I’ve really watched you play hockey as a New York Ranger for the final time, that I won’t get to see you raise the cup for us. But someday soon your name will go up in the rafters at Madison Square Garden and on that day, I know every memory I have of your incredible time here will come flooding back to me and I’ll be filled with the same pride I feel now, knowing you were ours.

No one loved being a New York Ranger more and no one did it better than you.

You once said, “I will always feel like a Ranger,” and it will always feel that way to me.

With bittersweet sadness and a whole lot of love,

Natalina

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