The Future of Henrik Lundqvist
I’ll be up front about things that probably do not need any explanation. I hate the Rangers. I hate Henrik Lundqvist. I think he’s overrated as a goalie and plays in a system that seems tailored to pad his stats and do little else. I think he’s overrated as a human with a reasonably attractive face. I think no one would give two sh*ts about him if he didn’t play in New York.
But this story about him being noncommittal on a long term deal with the Rangers intrigues the hell out of me, even if it may just be hot air from the world’s most over-exposed hockey team. (Oh, you thought I’d go Pittsburgh there? At least they: A). have two of the league’s most compelling players and B). haven’t been lukewarm garbage for most of the last two decades.)
I don’t know much about Lundqvist as a person, but I have to believe that he wants to win, and also isn’t a complete moron. Those two aspects make him incompatible with the New York Rangers under this management. Glen Sather and company seem hell bent on using a New York Yankees style of player acquisition in a salary cap league, which has at best resigned the Rangers to mediocrity, and at worst completely blown up in their faces on several occasions. Were it not for other similarly idiotic GMs (Scott Gomez movement anyone? By the way, props to San Jose for making him good again), it’s possible we would be citing the Rangers as one of the biggest messes in the league right now.
Sather has done little in New York to build a team that can be successful long term (let alone compete for a cup), instead trying get rich quick scheme after get rich quick scheme. If he didn’t learn his lesson after Wade Redden, Chris Drury, Brad Richards, Rick Nash, and others, it seems unlikely that he ever will. It’s fun to talk about the 1994 Cup Finals (not really, but bear with me) and guys like Mark Messier, but the Rangers didn’t win that cup because they had two forwards that could hurt you, they won it because they had eight (Messier, Graves, Larmer, Kovalev, Tikkanen, Gartner, Nemchinov, and Amonte). If the Nash trade, which sent away important depth pieces Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky for something the Rangers didn’t really need, is any indication, Sather just doesn’t understand that. Maybe the ensuing Gaborik trade which brought back Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett shows that he’s turned a corner, but that’s merely speculative and not exactly comforting anyway.
I would imagine that Lundqvist wants some measure of NHL success to go along with all his shiny hardware won overseas, and at 31 that window is only getting smaller. Of course most of what I’ve said above is also merely speculative as well, but if Lundqvist does want to win, he ought to be taking a long hard look at real estate in St. Louis and Brooklyn, two teams with cap space and question marks in net that could otherwise be very good for the next few years.