Lundqvist’s Legacy is on the line

Legacy: noun:  a gift by will especially of money or other personal property.

That’s the dictionary version of the word.

Over time, it has grown and taken on more meaning depending on its relativity to a situation. In the scientific world, it could mean a history changing discovery. For those in the medical field, a life saving cure or procedure. In sports, it’s nothing that important but it is what you leave behind to the game, your franchise, and its fans.

Lundqvist is STATISTICALLY the greatest Rangers goalie of all time.

If it all ended today for Henrik Lundqvist, he walks away the Rangers all time leader in:

  • Games Played: 742
  • Wins: 405
  • Shutouts: 61
  • SV%: 920 (min 82 games)
  • GAA: 2.82 (min 82 games)

He is currently 10th all time in NHL wins and can climb to 7th with 33 more victories this season. All this already qualifies him for the Hockey Hall of Fame and having his jersey number 30 retired to the Garden rafters.

Of course, he’s still not done.

Fair or Unfair, Great Legacies are built on Championships

Dan Marino is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in the NFL. He is ranked 5th in all time passing yards and TDs. Yet he has no championships. John Elway has 10,000 less passing yards and Eli Manning currently sits 13,000 behind Marino and both are revered higher. Why? Super Bowl rings on their fingers. It is that simple.

At the age of 35, time is not on Lundqvist’s side anymore. Heading into this upcoming season’s playoffs, Hank will be 36 years old. How many good years does he really have left? 2, maybe 3 more. Time is running out, and while winning a championship is solely not on any one person, it still used as a measuring stick when comparing against other greats.

The argument whether that’s fair to do so is pointless. You play sports to win, not rack up great stats. The end goal for any team and all players is to win, and championships are the ultimate goal.

Why Mike Richter is the Rangers’ Greatest

Mike Richter raises the Stanley Cup high. (Getty)

Let me set the stage. It’s June 7th, 1994 in game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in hostile Vancouver. The Rangers are up 2-1 in the best of seven series, but down 2-1 in the game. A loss here puts a ton of pressure on the team to win game 5 at home.

The Canucks are buzzing and a series defining moment is about to take place in the second period. Pavel Bure, the Canucks best player and possibly one of the fastest, most gifted snipers ever to play in the NHL, blows past Brian Leetch for a breakaway. Exhausted and with no choice, Leetch takes him down. Penalty shot!

What happens next, my feeble words could never properly describe.

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That save by Mike Richter is widely considered to this day as the greatest save in Rangers history. Now let me ask you. If the Rangers would have lost that series and not won the Stanley Cup, would the save and Mike Richter be so fondly remembered? I think not. Matter of fact the modern day debate would not be Lundqvist or Richter, but Lundqvist or Giacomin.

Still, to put this in proper context there’s no debate from a hockey standpoint that Henrik Lundqvist is a greater goalie. He will be regarded by NHL historians as one of the greatest to ever defend a goal. However, when it comes down to fans who live and die with the Blueshirts, the debate will rage on fiercely.

The reason is simple. Mike Richter’s legacy is a Stanley Cup. He is the goalie that broke the 54 year curse and for that, he will be considered the greatest Rangers net minder ever.

Legacy on the Line

Lundqvist (Getty)

While Lundqvist’s hockey legacy is secure as one of the games’ greatest, his Rangers legacy is on the line. There may be many fans that will scoff at this notion, but they would be wrong.

Mike Richter did play on a team with Mark Messier and Brian Leetch. Matter of fact the 1994 team is probably one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Lundqvist has never had that benefit, but in today’s modern age of parity, his teams have been excellent.

The Rangers may lack the bonafide scoring superstar, but have a deep and talented lineup. This may also be the best defense Lundqvist has ever had in front of him too. So the clock is ticking and the excuses are running dry. The team and Lundqvist need to find a way to win a Stanley Cup.

If they do with Henrik in goal, the debate is over. No…the debate has been atomized! There would be no discussion to be had. Lundqvist would be the greatest goalie this franchise has ever seen.

Till then, the debate will rage on…and on…and on.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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