Want to stop pucks beneath the glitteringlights of iconic Madison Square Garden with the pressure of playing in an Original Six market? Apply for the position of New York Rangers starting goaltender today. If you can’t take the heat, don’t sweat it. That assignment isn’t for everyone. But it’s perfectly tailored to Henrik Lundqvist – just like his designer suits.
Aren’t goalies supposed to be social misfits who hide behind masks? Not Lundqvist, who is known for showing his face. And what a face. Blessed with perfectly coiffed hair, a blindingly bright smile and quintessential accidentally-on-purpose stubble, Lundqvist is considered the handsomest, most stylish player of his generation. He was named one of People magazine’s 100 most beautiful people in 2006.
So he’s pretty, but he’s also one of this century’s best goalies. Since Lundqvist debuted with the Rangers in 2005-06, he has played 70 games more than any other goaltender. He leads the NHL in wins and shutouts over that span. He captured the Vezina Trophy in 2012 and is a five-time finalist. He’s eighth all-time in NHL victories with 431 and, health permitting, should pass Jacques Plante and Terry Sawchuk to crack the top six in 2018-19. ‘King Henrik’ even backstopped Sweden to Olympic gold in 2006.
He thus has an obvious Hall of Fame resume. But as stellar as Lundqvist has been, he finds himself in a position similar to a late-career Ray Bourque, pre-Avalanche trade: obviously one of his era’s best players but without a Stanley Cup. Lundqvist has come close, losing in the 2014 final, but now he’s 36 and part of a rebuilding team. He has insisted that he never wants to leave the Blueshirts, so he may retire without a title. If he does, he’ll rank alongside Roberto Luongo, Tony Esposito, Curtis Joseph and Ed Giacomin as the best netminders never to earn a ring as a starter.
Born: March 2, 1982, Are, Swe.
NHL Career: 2005-present
Stats: 431-275-83, 2.37 GAA, .919 SP, 63 SO
All-Star: 2 (First-1, Second-1)
Trophies: 1 (Vezina-1)
DID YOU KNOW?
Henrik’s twin brother Joel, drafted 68th overall by Dallas in 2000, was a more highly regarded prospect than Henrik, who went 137 picks later. In 134 NHL games, Joel had 26 points. Henrik had 23 points through 2017-18.