July 22, 2023

Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist, hockey's best dressed man and the dominant goalie of his era, has earned his place among the all time greats in hockey history. It was made official with his inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2023.

Born on March 2, 1982, in Åre, Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist was raised in a family deeply devoted to sports. Henrik's sister Gabriella was a promising tennis player. Henrik and his twin brother Joel, who made also made it to the NHL (as a forward), inherited their father's love for hockey and quickly developed a passion for the game.

Lundqvist rose through the ranks to become arguably the most promising goaltender to ever come out of Sweden. He spent five seasons with Vastra Frolunda HC, rewriting the Swedish record book. During his final season there, 2005, he broke four Swedish national records: lowest goals against average (1.05), highest save percentage (.962), longest goalless streak (at 172 minutes and 29 seconds) and most shutouts in a season (6). He was also named Best Goaltender, Best Player and was selected as the league's MVP by fellow players.

In his Swedish career 180 appearances with Frölunda, he amassed a 1.96 goals against average (GAA) and a .927 save percentage, leading them to four consecutive playoff appearances and winning two titles in 2003 and 2005.

Such exceptional performances earned him a spot on the Swedish National Team, and he represented his country in several international competitions, showcasing his talents to a global audience. Most notably Lundqvist backstopped Sweden to the 2006 Olympic gold medal. All in all he played in three Olympic games, also winning silver in 2014. He played in five World Championships, winning gold in 2017. He also played in three World Junior Championships, the 2004 and 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and, interestingly, the 2002 inline hockey World Championships, where he won gold.

Wow, that's quite the career, and that's just the international side. He also became the dominant NHL goalie of his era and the "King" of New York.

The New York Rangers drafted him in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, unaware of the impact this Swedish goaltender would make in the years to come. Lundqvist's arrival in the Big Apple injected new life into the Rangers' goaltending, and he quickly became the backbone of the team.

He holds numerous NHL records, including the most 30-win seasons by a goaltender, and is the first goalie in league history to win 30 or more games in each of his first seven seasons. He holds the record for most wins by a European-born goaltender in the NHL history. He also owns every New York Rangers goaltending record there is to own.

Renowned for his ability to steal victories and his unwavering determination, "King Henrik" earned the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender in 2012, further cementing his status as a premier netminder. The Vezina was an elusive trophy for Henrik. He actually was nominated in each of his first three seasons in the league but didn't actually win it until 2012.

Lundqvist's unparalleled contributions to the New York Rangers earned him a place in the hearts of fans, and he became one of the most beloved players in the franchise's history. He captivated fans with his humility and professionalism both on and off the ice. 

In 2020, after 15 extraordinary seasons with the New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist signed with the Washington Capitals, a move that offered him a chance to continue his pursuit of the elusive Stanley Cup. However, before the season could begin, he underwent open-heart surgery, sidelining him for the 2020-2021 campaign. Despite this setback, Lundqvist displayed incredible resilience and determination throughout his recovery.

In August 2021, Henrik Lundqvist announced his retirement from professional hockey without ever playing a game for the Capitals. Thus concluded a remarkable career that spanned over two decades.

As a true sports icon and role model, Henrik Lundqvist will forever be remembered as the Swedish Wall, a masterful goaltender, and a person of exemplary character.

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