Henrik Lundqvist is the true leader of the Blueshirts
When Ryan Callahan was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning last spring for Martin St. Louis, the Rangers gave away much more than just a talented top six forward and fan favorite – they gave away their captain and young leader. For the rest of the season, one which ironically ended in a run to the Stanley Cup finals, the Blueshirts elected not to stitch the “C” on another sweater.
Fast forward to end of the preseason, when the Eastern Conference Champions finally named a new captain in Ryan McDonagh, a popular choice among the players and fans alike. But after struggling through the first 10 games with his new title, McDonagh went down with a shoulder injury that will keep him sidelined at least 2-4 more weeks.
So where do the Rangers now look for leadership while McDonagh heals and the team searches for its skating legs? Sure, they have a solid core in alternate captains Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, St. Louis, and Derek Stepan, but the search can likely start and end in the crease with the Blueshirts’ best player, Henrik Lundqvist.
Yes, it’s true that Lundqvist or any other netminder in the league isn’t on the ice for every game. But in the case of the Super Swede, he really doesn’t have to be. His resume on the ice certainly speaks for itself, and when he is between the pipes his compete level is so high that his teammates can’t help but to raise their level of play and follow his lead.
Off the ice, Lundqvist is also the consummate leader, whether cheering for and working with backup Cam Talbot from the bench or in practice, or portraying the image in public outside MSG that benefits both the organization and the NHL. The Henrik Lundqvist Foundation, for example, works with both children and adults and benefits the likes of New York Presbyterian Children’s Hospitals, the Food Bank for NYC, Ronald McDonald House, Together for Better (benefits those in Dominican Republic), and the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
Simply put, Lundqvist gets it, both on and off the ice. Hopefully, the rest of the Blueshirts will make it their business to follow his lead.