Henrik Lundqvist believes the New York Rangers are still a Stanley Cup contender. But history shows, it is now or never for the aging King.
By Ernie DeFalco
Henrik Lundqvist has a pretty full trophy case. On one shelf are his Gold and Silver Olympic Medals, another displays his Vezina trophy, up on the top shelf is the President’s Trophy, and of course right in the middle, is the Prince of Whales Trophy.
But there is one vacant spot, a void that stands near three feet tall. A void just tall and wide enough to fit Lord Stanley’s Cup. The King hopes to fill that void this season and he believes his current teammates are just the ones to get him there.
In a recent interview on ESPN.com King Henrik, looking handsome as usual, explains he still likes the New York Rangers chances in the upcoming 2015-2016 season. While acknowledging that there is a number of quality teams in the NHL, he suggested the Ranger core is still in-tact and appreciated the moves made by the Rangers organization over the past couple of years to keep that core together. A core which he is a big part of.
You can tell he still carries the weight of no championships. It is around his neck like an anvil. Always conscious of it, hoping it can one day be removed, but he is running out of time.
Many do not want to acknowledge it, but at 33 years old, Lundqvist’s magnificent career is heading into its twilight. The next few years will be very important for Lundqvist’s legacy. The events of the next three years will finalize the legacy he began carving out as a rookie in 2005-2006.
The King seemed to come out of nowhere and usurped veteran Kevin Weekes from the throne, winning 30 games, and leading the Blueshirts to the playoffs for the first time in seven years. But how will the final chapters of that legacy be written?
It would be understandable if he is beginning to feel the pressure of winning. On paper he has six more years, but in reality, it is less than that. He really has two to three tops. At least as a starter. Not many 35+ year old goaltenders lead their teams to championships. That is fact, not opinion.
But what of the New York Rangers? To what extent do they feel the need to indulge the quest? Let’s pretend that four years have passed and Hank is now 37, and still searching for that elusive trophy. Do the New York Rangers feel an obligation to continue to strip away young pieces to help him fulfill his quest? Do they honor the contract Lundqvist signed by doing all they can to win?
Right now Lundqvist’s focus is on one thing and one thing only. Winning that cup. And it should be. A cup win cements him as one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time.
Without taking that trip around the ice with Lord Stanley’s Cup he may get the tag of “Great, but couldn’t win the big one.” That tag is almost worse than not being remembered at all.
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