Henrik Lundqvist, Eli Manning
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The benching of Eli Manning may just foreshadow what’s to come for Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. 

Frank Curto

Winning two Super Bowl MVPs can only carry a player so far. In the case of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, those great memories could no longer save his starting job.

The 16-year veteran will stand on the sidelines when he watches Daniel Jones lead his team out onto the field in Tampa Bay this coming Sunday.

The situation that played out on a New Jersey practice field Tuesday morning is one that may very well play out across the river in the state of New York. New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist finds himself in a frighteningly similar situation.

It seems their paths, while on separate roads, may end up at the same spot. Watching the only team they have played for move on without them leading the way is the only sound conclusion.

Hank has had a similar career as the Giants quarterback. Unfortunately for Henrik, his resume does not include a Stanley Cup. The Swedish goalie has enjoyed a Hall of Fame career, like Manning, as the face of the franchise has been the No. 1 player on his team for 14 years.

Also, like his counterpart on the football field, Lundqvist has taken a lot of criticism from fans and media alike.

It never seems he can do enough to gain the respect he deserves. Seven-hundred and twenty-six wins, two eastern conference championship appearances, a two-time All-Star and a Vezina winner in 2012. There are many other accolades, but the one that stands out is the fact he has only one Stanley Cup Final appearance with no cup rings.

Interestingly, Lundqvist has something Manning doesn’t: a full no-trade clause.

Would David Quinn Bench The King?

Would David Quinn change things around and make Henrik the number two guy if he struggles early on?

It’s a tough decision, which really shouldn’t be compared to the Giants and Manning.

In the realm of the real world, Henrik is already being looked at, as the question will surely be asked over and over. How long until Hank is sitting on the bench with a Rangers hat instead of on the ice with his mask on?

It’s a fair question to ask. Manning, after just two games and a 0-2 start, has been benched for a rookie QB.

Lundqvist has not one, but two goaltenders looking to take his spot. The pressure not just on Henrik, but on Quinn is extraordinary. This is a team that is coming off a rebuild that saw many familiar players moved to other teams.

This team is rising from the ashes back to its roots and traditions the fanbase deserves. Henrik has to be concerned he might be the next surprising headline on the back page of the newspaper.

Hank had his opportunity to be traded; the club spoke with him, but he wanted to be here to see the rebuild through.

New York Rangers

Whether that is loyalty or selfishness is only known by the organization and/or Henrik himself. Many believe a trade could have helped the team’s rebuild.

Others say he deserved to make that decision. After all, didn’t he earn that full-no trade?

Either way, his contract has made him a target at times over the last four years. He’s taken a step backward in the quickness department as father time continues to knock on the door.

On the football field, Manning has encountered a lot of what Lundqvist has gone through, being second-guessed, blamed for losses and now Eli has lost his starting spot.

Both of these players are professionals, but they are also humans and in Manning’s case, as I am sure would be in Henrik’s, if the same happened in Rangerstown, the franchise-great would be thrown under the bus via team failures.

The two New York City greats are leaders of storied franchises in New York City. Both are undeniable winners on and off the field, but with their careers nearing an end in the Big Apple.

Eli now faces the uncertainty of his future with the G-Men. By the time this Rangers season ends, Henrik will most likely be in the same situation.

New York sports fans have been very lucky to have been able to turn the television on and watch these two incredible players represent their teams.

Rangers fans should enjoy watching the King this season because his time, much like Eli’s, is running out. Hopefully, when Henrik Lundqvist’s time finally comes, chaos doesn’t rule the day.

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