A look back at the brilliant career of King Henrik Lundqvist

Published August 20, 2021 at 4:29 PM

On Friday morning, a hockey and NHL icon bowed out by announcing his decision to hang up his skates (and pads). So goalie Henrik Lundqvist, nicknamed the King, is ending a superb 15-season career, the end of which was unfortunately marred by health issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A bit like what happened with Martin Brodeur or other big names in the sport, it is in the wrong uniform that Henrik Lundqvist retires. The man who played all of his 15 seasons in the Bettman circuit with the New York Rangers had, in fact, signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals before the start of the 2020-21 season. However, in times of pandemic, the main interested party had preferred not to take the risk, as he is suffering from a serious heart problem, and he will have never worn the Caps uniform during a game.

Nevertheless, it is mainly for his feats with the New York Rangers that his name will remain in the archives. Drafted in the seventh round (205th overall) by the New York organization in 2000, Lundqvist made the jump to North America at the age of 23. He then quickly became the first choice in front of the Rangers' net, and he remained the Blueshirts number one goalie until his final season in 2019-20.

When all is said and done, the Swedish goaltender will have played 887 regular-season games with the Rangers, earning 459 wins in the process, including 64 shutouts. Those numbers rank him eighth, sixth and 17th in NHL history in each of those three categories. These are also three all-time highs for a Swedish-born goaltender. His 2.43 goals-against average and .918 save percentage are not bad either.

These consistent performances have earned him five nominations for the Vézina Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's best goaltender. However, it was not until his fourth nomination that Lundqvist finally received the award, following a 2011-12 season in which he posted a 39-18-5 record, a 1.97 goals-against average and a 0.929 save percentage. He was also named a Hart Trophy candidate that year.

In addition, the King managed to qualify his team for the playoffs 12 times during his 15 seasons in New York. In particular, he had been masterful during the 2014 series, when the Rangers lost in five games in the Stanley Cup Grand Final to the Los Angeles Kings. The Stanley Cup is actually one of the only honors to have eluded Lundqvist, so he will go down as one of the best players to have never won the precious Trophy.

The Ultimate Honor

Finally, the New York Rangers wasted no time in announcing that they would be honoring, one last time, their legendary masked man, as his jersey will likely be retired in the upcoming season. This means that no one will be able to wear the number 30 that belonged to Lundqvist in the Rangers uniform.

Known as one of the best in his profession on the ice and a true gentleman off of it, he was the face of this organization for over a decade. At the age of 39, it is now time for the King to take care of his family and his personal health. We all wish you a happy retirement, King Henrik!
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