No. 30 will head to the rafters tonight.
It’s Friday, Jan. 28 and the New York Rangers are hosting the Minnesota Wild. Two very good teams with legit playoff chances doing battle at Madison Square Garden. Should be an exciting game.
And yet, we’re betting almost none of the tickets sold to this game were because of the compelling matchup on the ice.
Tonight, the New York Rangers retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30.
— The Tonight Show (@FallonTonight) January 27, 2022
Out of Åre, Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist was the 205th player selected in the 2000 NHL Draft.
A seventh rounder.
What’s more, the 2000 NHL Draft was hyped for a New York team picking a “generational goaltender” — the Islanders infamously selected Rick DiPietro first overall that year.
Most seventh-round picks are afterthoughts, but that year’s class (back when there were more than seven rounds in the draft) had four players — Lundqvist, Paul Gaustad, Matthew Lombardi and Antti Miettinen — appear in more than 500 regular-season games.
Lundqvist ranks first among goaltenders drafted in the class of 2000… in assists, with 27. He’s also, obviously, the best netminder selected that year.
Hank’s entire playing career was spent with the Rangers. Yes, we’ll acknowledge that he signed with the Capitals and retired before ever skating for them, but the only jersey he ever wore on the ice was the iconic, Original Six sweater of the Rangers.
For 15 years he patrolled the blue paint for the Blue Shirts, appearing in 887 games. He retired owning 50!! team records including: wins, appearances by a goaltender, shutouts, save percentage (min. 75 appearances), playoff appearances (by either a skater or goaltender – 130), playoff wins (61), playoff shutouts (10), and playoff save percentage (min. 10 appearances – .921).
He put together a 459-310-96 record with a .918 save percentage, 2.43 goals against average and 64 career regular-season shutouts.
Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s Best Goaltender after the 2011-12 season, and was named an NHL All-Star five times (2009, 2011, 2012, 2018, 2019).
Lundqvist’s 459 career wins and 887 career appearances with the Rangers are the second-most for a goaltender with a single franchise in NHL history.
— LIVEKellyRyan (@LiveKellyRyan) January 27, 2022
Lundqvist won more NHL games than any other non-North American born goaltender. He ranks sixth on the NHL’s all-time wins list, eighth on the all-time appearances list and ranks 17th in all-time shutouts.
Over a 12-year stretch, Lundqvist led the Rangers to 11 postseason appearances. And, if you watched many of those Rangers teams, it isn’t a stretch to say the goaltender led them to the postseason.
With Hank between the pipes, the Rangers made it to the Eastern Conference Final three times in a four-year stretch and one Stanley Cup Final in 2014.
And he was clutch. Lundqvist earned six Game 7 wins — tied for the most in NHL history. And he did that in consecutive Game 7s, making him the only goaltender in NHL history to win six straight win-or-go-home games.
Off the ice
We’ve talked plenty about the fact that Henrik Lundqvist was a marvelous goaltender. But he’s also a style icon on the New York scene.
Let’s be real for a moment: the man is gorgeous.
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But off the ice, he’s also been a great philanthropist. The Henrik Lundqvist Foundation has spent years helping children and adults receive improved education and health care services.
You could argue there have been other netminders in the history of the Rangers who were important; Mike Richter certainly comes to mind for those of us under the age of 50.
You could argue there have been other players associated with the Rangers organization who made an impact on the community; Lundqvist isn’t the only player to start a foundation or work with the club’s community efforts.
But you’d be hard pressed to convince Rangers fans that a player has made a bigger impact on and off the ice on behalf of the Blue Shirts than Henrik Lundqvist. And we were fortunate to watch him play — and serve — for as long as we did.
So tonight, we join the players on the ice in tapping our sticks in recognition of the GOAT. Long live King Henrik!