Henrik Lundqvist NYR HHOF testimonial by brother Joel

Henrik Lundqvist will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. In a special testimonial for NHL.com, his twin brother, Joel, talks about their relationship and why the former New York Rangers goalie is deserving of this honor:

Growing up, Henrik and I were almost like one person. We did everything together. 

We competed together. We had the same friends. We were always together, always supporting each other. It was great growing up to have him around as a friend and as a brother to always feel that support.

To see my twin brother going into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2023 is of course amazing, but it's beyond that. It's hard to find the right words as I try to explain what it means to people. It's not anything you really dream about when you're a kid. 

I was so proud and happy to be at his jersey number retirement ceremony in New York (in 2022). I've been playing for so many years in Sweden, but to come over to North America and see how big and how appreciated he is in that organization is always outstanding and impressive. 

To now see that appreciation extend to the entire hockey world with induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, it's huge. I'm so proud.

As I mentioned above, as twins Henrik and I were inseparable when we were kids. He was always around and I'm sure he will say the same thing about me. If we called a friend, we didn't ask, 'Do you want to play with me today?' No. It was, 'Do you want to play with us today.' Joel and Henrik. Henrik and Joel. We were a package deal both in sports and with friends. Our friends knew that it's both of us or none of us."

We knew each other so well that I could feel his emotions. I knew when he was going through something. We went through so many different situations together. You learn how to read that person so well and how he reacts in different situations. I had my best friend around me all the time and we knew early in our lives that it was better for us to be on the same team competing together rather than competing against each other in individual sports.

NHL celebrates 2023 HHOF Inductee Henrik Lundqvist

We played in a tennis tournament and the whole tournament was waiting on our match. Lundqvist vs. Lundqvist. We were probably in the fifth or sixth place match, so it wasn't the final, but it was big and it was taking forever. Every point we had was so important, so taxing on us. We were intensely competing against each other. We didn't want to give an inch.

So they finally asked us if it was OK to have it end in a tie before it was over. The whole tournament was waiting on us. We were the last match. There was a ceremony that they had planned and they needed us to be done playing to hold it. 

We called it even and we felt it was best for everyone that we did. It showed that we do better in team sports when we play together rather than against each other. We learned that early and it was pretty clear for us and our parents. If one of us had lost that match, it would have been impossible for us to be around each other. Instead, we let it go, bygones be bygones. 

It wasn't until 2005, when Henrik left to go to New York, that we were apart for real. 

We were 23 years old. We had been living in the same town, grew up together, shared an apartment in high school. At 16, we started to grow apart to the point where we had our own lives, but still in the same town, same team, always around, always together. 

That year, 2005, was the first time we were apart like that in our lives. That was a big step, a big change, but at the same time it was so exciting to follow his journey in New York. As his brother, I was super proud of how he performed right away with the Rangers. He found his new home.

A year later, I came over to the NHL to play for the Dallas Stars. 

That was of course exciting. Our first game against each other was really special, a lot of emotions going through your head. But it was different and skating around with him in the other team's net was weird. It was the first time we were not on the same team, the first time we played against each other. 

As time went on, our career paths were obviously different, his in the NHL and mine professionally in Sweden for Frolunda. We'd talk once a week, maybe sometimes once every two weeks. We'd talk about life, family. The hockey stuff we could read about. We didn't need to talk about that.

Our conversations might have been short at times, just quick catchups. We were playing so many games and traveling. But we still knew that if ever we needed each other, we would be there, like at the end of his career, when Henrik had to make the decision about heart surgery and eventually admitting returning to the NHL was not going to happen.

Hockey has been our life. It was our dream as kids. It wasn't easy to have it taken away from Henrik, but this was about his health and his heart said no. That's tough. It was tough. I know he had to work with those feelings and learn how to handle it. 

It was important for him to let it go and just be happy for his career, not bitter or sad about the ending. He appreciated what he did and had a happiness about what he was able to do.

I was proud of him then, now and always. The Hall of Fame is getting a great goalie but an even better brother.

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