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Lundqvist has fun meeting passionate Rangers fans

by Brian Compton
NEW YORK -- One day after playing a huge role at the 2010 NHL Player Media Tour, Henrik Lundqvist had one more stop to make.

The New York Rangers' goaltender entered the NHL Store Powered by Reebok in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon to a roar from a large contingent of Blueshirts fans who showed up for Lundqvist's Twitter question-and-answer session with Alyonka Larionov.

One fan had a tattoo on her upper back that featured the Rangers' logo. Directly below it, it said "Grandma," a tribute by a young woman who lost her grandmother -- a diehard fan of the club -- last year.

"That's cool," Lundqvist said. "That's Rangers (fans) for you. I think it's amazing that it's in your culture to root for certain teams. That's why it's always so special to play here in New York."

Prior to the start of the Twitter questions, Larionov had a few for the Rangers' goalie. One was how he spent his offseason, which began in disappointing fashion after the team failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a shootout loss on the final day of the regular season.

"I went to Miami to try to forget about the tough ending to last year," Lundqvist said. "It was really tough. We had stretches where our consistency was not good enough. You try to learn something from it, and then you try to move on. But it kept bothering me for quite some time. It was good to relax and get away from hockey."

Lundqvist also touched on New York's addition of backup goaltender Martin Biron, who potentially could cut into Lundqvist's playing time in an attempt to keep him fresh. Biron signed a one-year deal with the club July 1.

"I don't want to sit on the bench, but at the same time, it's a long year," said Lundqvist, who appeared in 73 games last season and hasn't played fewer than 70 since 2005-06. "It's going to be good for me and it's going to be good for the team. The focus needs to be playing in June."

The Twitter questions were eclectic, ranging from the amount of time Lundqvist spends in the kitchen to pre-game rituals.

"I think in the past seven or eight years, I've been in my kitchen maybe five times," Lundqvist said, drawing laughs from the crowd. "I never cook. I think I'm too lazy and I don't have interest. I order in a lot and I go out for dinner a lot."

Afterward, Lundqvist took questions from fans in the store, with the person who asked the best question winning a game-used goalie stick autographed by Lundqvist. Questions varied from how special it is to play at Madison Square Garden to what advice he could give to a young goalie.

But New York City native Rachel Harap took home the prize when she asked Lundqvist which Rangers defenseman he would prefer to help him during a 2-on-1. While just-signed Marc Staal and Michal Rozsival were mentioned, Lundqvist didn't want to single anyone out.

After Larionov named Harap the winner, Lundqvist took a picture with the Rangers' season-ticket holder and then signed some autographs on his way out.

"I'm a huge fan," Harap told "This is very exciting. I can't wait for the season to start."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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