The New York Rangers will grant long time goaltender Henrik Lundqvist a truly tremendous honor this season.
On Monday the Rangers announced via their social media that this season will feature a jersey retirement ceremony. That jersey, the #30, of course will belong to arguably the most beloved goaltender in the history of the franchise. Lundqvist's career came to an unfortunate end last season when it was revealed that he had failed his physical due to a heart condition that had been uncovered by doctor's. While it was a sad way to go out, and almost certainly not the way Lundqvist himself would have chosen to leave the game, it may very well have saved his life in the long run.
It also prevented Lundqvist from ever playing a game with the Washington Capitals, the team that had signed him coming off of a buyout from the Rangers, meaning that officially Lundqvist played every single game of his NHL career under the Rangers umbrella. Although Lundqvist never achieved the ultimate goal of capturing a Stanley Cup with the Rangers franchise, you will be hard pressed to find a fan of the franchise that has a bad word to say about the netminder. Lundqvist was not only the picture of class and grace during his tenure with the team, but his work within the community has impacted countless lives and will no doubt continue to do so long after his jersey has been raised to the rafters.
The 39 year old Swedish goaltender began his time with the Rangers as something of a hail mary pickup at the 2000 National Hockey League Entry Draft. Many fans won't remember this but Lundqvist was a 7th round selection (205th overall) for the Rangers, having been passed up 204 times by opposing teams and the Rangers prior to being picked. Lundqvist would continue to ply his craft in the Swedish Elite League with Frolunda HC before eventually making his Rangers regular season debut in the 2005 - 2006 NHL season. Immediately Lundqvist was a star, recording a 2.24 goals against average and a .922 save percentage over 53 games played.
It was enough to instantly cement Lundqvist as the Rangers starting netminder, a position he would maintain for nearly his entire career. In the end Lundqvist played in 887 career games for the Rangers, recording a 2.43 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. Extremely respectable numbers, especially when you consider the sheer length of his career as a starting goaltender.
We of course could sing Lundqvist's praises all day, but the time for that will be on January 28th when his name is raised to the rafters in Madison Square Garden. I genuinely cannot wait to hear the reaction of the crowd on that special day.