Henrik Lundqvist wants to play. He wants to come back and battle for the starting job against Carolina. He wants to play in the NHL for a few more years because he knows he can. Johan Rylander met with Hank and talked about all this and more in his latest for GP-Sporten. I reached out to Johan to get proper translations and to understand the emotions conveyed by the Rangers and Hockey icon.
On Being a Third String, Disappointment, and Fighting for Starter Role
Johan Rylander doesn’t lob softballs. When it came time to ask Henrik about the way the season played out he was direct. “Were you surprised the Rangers made you the third keeper?” Johan asked. “What am I supposed to say about that? I had a picture of how the season would develop, what I had in mind,” Henrik replied. “When things turned out the way they did, I was surprised. But at the same time, part of me understands the situation.” Lundqvist then explained the Rangers rebuild and his role in it. “I’m not blind. They’re thinking ahead. There are many pieces that go into building a team right now, but also for the future. You’re going to have to widen the view a little. But it wasn’t like I projected my own plan for sure.”
In Rylander fashion, his follow up was as direct as it gets, “A f***ing disappointment, then?“ Henrik’s response was honest, “Obviously it is disappointing to not play as much as you want. That’s where the disappointment is. It’s more … not on them (the Rangers), but more that it became as it became. And if I not had been disappointed, then I sell myself short. I want to play, to deliver at a high level. If I don’t, I will be disappointed.”
“The day you’re not disappointed you may as well quit,” Rylander directed to the Rangers greatest goalie in history. “Exactly!” Hank answered. “What do I do there? I have to fight – if I want to go back and have that place in the net.”
On Buyout Rumors
I’ve spoken to Johan many times on Henrik over the year. We’ve even discussed the rumors of a buyout for the franchise goaltender. Rylander didn’t waste the opportunity and asked Henrik about it. “It’s not in my mind right now, “ was his reply. “The focus is training and this summer. Now we go for it right here. I can sense that I have it in me – to go another few years over there in the NHL. I’m sure about it!” So if the Rangers do opt to buy him out, his reign as the King in NY may be finished, but not in the NHL.
“Then the question is: In what situation will it be?” Lundqvist eluding to what role he may have in the future whether that be in NY or elsewhere. “That things become as it always has been? No, it doesn’t work that way. I must be set that change eventually comes by time.”
On the Inevitable End
Johan ended his brilliant interview the only way a seasoned journalist should. He asked this aging star of the game about the eventual end to his career. “It’s clear that I’m thinking about how much I love hockey and how long I think I can continue, or even want to continue. I also realized that I can’t look that far ahead.” Lundqvist then finished his interview by leaving a question of his own. “Now we are ready to run this summer and this season. I also know that in November and December last year, when I was at my best, I played as well as I did several years before. It was incredibly fun. If I can I find a situation where I play and deliver like that – why not continue?”
Indeed, why not? And when phase 3 begins in July we are set to get our answers.
Thank you to Johan Rylander for supplying the featured photo for this article and for taking the time to provide appropriate translations. The interview touches on many other subjects including how Sweden handled the COVID-19 crisis. Henrik recognizes the differences between the U.S. and Sweden and thinks his home country did a great job. It is an amazing in-depth discussion between a great goalie and reporter. Subscribe & Check it out.