New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist may have been a hated rival for the New York Islanders, but he should leave the market with his head held high.
On Wednesday, the New York Rangers announced that they would be buying out the final year of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s contract. Bringing an end to 15 years career as a hated, but respected New York Islanders rival.
The buyout was expected, but it’s certainly not the way Lundqvist would have wanted his career with the Rangers to end. After 15 years, Lundqvist ends his Rangers run with a 459-310-96 regular-season record with 64 shutouts and an average 2.43GAA and 0.918SV%.
But you don’t stay in Manhattan that long without ruffling some feathers on the Island.
In 15 years, Lundqvist faced the Isles 61 times. He’s only played against the New Jersey Devils (65) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (64) more. He’s got a great record over that time against the Isles, going 30-21-7 and averaging a 2.41GAA and 0.915SV%.
His best season against the Isles came in the lockout-shortened 12-13 season, in three games against his cross-river rivals, Lundqvist held a 3-0-0 record and an incredible 0.65GAA and 0.977SV%.
But after the 13-14 season, Lundqvist’s abilities against the Islanders started to slip. Over his final six years with the Rangers, Hank held a 1-9-2 record against the New York Islanders. In his 30 regular-season games played in 19-20, Lundqvist didn’t face the Isles once. The Rangers opted with Alexandar Georgiev each and every time.
Lundqvist leaves New York as one of the better goalies to play in the market but also as one who was never able to seal the deal. Twice the Rangers (and Lundqvist) lost in the Eastern Conference Finals (2012 and 2015). More importantly, they lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014.
There’s no doubt that Lundqvist leaves New York as a special player. For years, he was a hated rival but as he leaves all I can think about is how I respect Lundqvist for being a team player and one of the better players at his position in the modern era and how (until recently) I hated seeing his name on the game sheet.
A buyout isn’t how he wanted things to end, but he should be leaving the best sports market in North America with his head held high.