Henrik Lundqvist inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame
In a celebration that will commemorate the brilliant career of one of the most beloved New York Rangers to tend goal over their 97-year history, on Monday Henrik Lundqvist will be officially inducted along with the other 2023 class members into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Lundqvist represented all that was great about hockey goaltenders, and very little that was not. He was “the King,” despite never, in his 15-year NHL career, having won a Stanley Cup. We would all like to have seen Henrik achieve that pinnacle of success; but, unfortunately, it was not meant to be. In a career cut short by health issues, the legendary Blueshirt hung them up for the last time at the end of the 2020-2021 season, retiring from the NHL on August 20, 2021.
The King’s number 30 was retired by the Rangers in January 2022; and in so many ways, he was what other goalies aspire to be.
“Grateful and extremely honored to be selected to the Hockey Hall Of Fame,” Lundqvist wrote. “Thinking of all the great players in the HHOF that inspired me as a kid. Feels amazing to be included in this special group.”
Henrik Lundqvist: Hall of Famer
Drafted 205th overall as an 18-year-old by the Rangers in the seventh round of the 2000 entry draft, Lundqvist, a Swedish player — whose twin brother Joel Lundqvist subsequently played from 2006-2009 for the Dallas Stars — has said on MSG Networks he always dreamed of playing in the NHL, even as a child, when a poster of the inestimable Dominik Hasek took center stage on the wall of his room.
Lundqvist’s brother Joel explained at NHL.com, “our first [NHL] game against each other was really special, a lot of emotions going through your head. But it was different and skating around with him in the other team’s net was weird. It was the first time we were not on the same team, the first time we played against each other.
“Hockey has been our life. It was our dream as kids. It wasn’t easy to have it taken away from Henrik, but this was about his health and his heart said no. That’s tough. It was tough. I know he had to work with those feelings and learn how to handle it.”
The King’s work ethic
Henrik, often called “Hank” by those in the hockey community, has said when he was drafted as the 205th overall selection, he knew he still had work to do to become as competitive in the NHL as was his goal. And work at his craft he did. Lundqvist’s standards for both himself and his team were unwavering, and he became known for enjoining his fellow Rangers at times to step up their play when he felt they were slipping.
Over a career that spanned 15 seasons, the retired goaltender ended his career having totaled 887 games played and 130 playoff games played. On March 7, 2019, Lundqvist became just the third goaltender in NHL history to play at least 850 games with one franchise.
Henrik ended his NHL career with a record of 459-310-96, a .916 SV% and a GAA of 2.43 with 64 shutouts: numbers that can only be boasted by the best. His legacy includes carrying the Rangers on numerous occasions, in particular in their pursuit of the 2014 Stanley Cup, which fell short.
“It’s an opportunity to reflect on your career and things you experienced,” Lundqvist said on Friday after getting his HOF ring. “It makes you happy thinking about all the fun times you had as a hockey player. Not only on the ice but away from the game… I’m so extremely grateful for that.”
The King did it all with grace, charm, and a never-ending love of the game. It’s fortunate for the many net minders who were his backups over the years that they played with him firsthand — and perhaps they got to learn some special little secrets about what goalies need to do to be successful in the NHL. No matter what, Lundqvist made a lasting impression on all the Blueshirts teams on which he played over his illustrious career. And in the rest of the hockey world, as well. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Henrik! No NHL player is more deserving.