NYR Henrik Hall of Fame Article (Nov. 2023) DL

“Playing ability, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her team or teams and to the game of hockey in general.”

Those characteristics, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame bylaws, are what determines whether a person should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Player Category.

For those who watched Henrik Lundqvist throughout his playing career – whether it was during his early years as a professional in Sweden, the times he represented his country on the biggest international stages the world had to offer, or, of course, his 15 seasons with the Rangers – it was obvious that he exuded each of those qualities in the highest possible manner.

And it is why he is taking his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.


That’s not to say Henrik’s career was always destined to have this conclusion. He was not a first overall pick, nor even a first-round pick. In fact, there were 204 players – including 21 goaltenders – chosen in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft before the Rangers selected Lundqvist with their seventh-round pick. Henrik had attended the Draft with his twin brother, Joel, who was drafted by the Dallas Stars that year in the third round.

It would take Lundqvist five years from the time he was drafted by the Rangers until he began his NHL career. By that time, he had done – and won – everything he possibly could in Sweden. In 2004-05, his final season with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League, he was the league’s Most Valuable Player and Best Goaltender, who had the league’s best goals against average and save percentage, and he led Frolunda as they won the league championship.

Coming to New York and proving he could play in the best league in the world was the next challenge for Lundqvist. He said during that first Training Camp in 2005 – and repeated the story several times in the years that followed – that he wasn’t sure if he would even be on the Rangers’ roster to start the year, and he wondered where he would be living in Hartford if he was assigned to the Wolf Pack.

Ultimately, Lundqvist never played a game in the American Hockey League in his career. His first game at Madison Square Garden – which was his second career NHL game – turned out to be his first NHL win, a victory over the New Jersey Devils. Two nights later, as he and the Rangers were about to earn another win, the fans began to chant his name – first, it was “Lund-qvist!”, then it was “Hen-rik!”. Two nights after that, he earned his first career NHL shutout, further endearing himself to the Garden Faithful. And he never looked back.


During that magical 2005-06 season, Lundqvist was unquestionably one of the catalysts. Not only did he finish the season as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy and set a franchise record for wins by a rookie goaltender with 30, but he also connected with Rangers fans in a way that few others had. With the combination of a blue-collar work ethic and movie star attraction, there was a part of Lundqvist’s character that every fan could embrace. And when he arrived at MSG prior to each home game, he would spend about 10-to-15 minutes signing autographs, reaching as many people as possible before going on the ice and performing at the top of his game.

It also didn’t hurt Lundqvist’s popularity in New York when, as the NHL paused its schedule for two weeks for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, he helped Sweden win a gold medal. On a team that featured veterans and surefire Hall of Famers such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Mats Sundin, and Peter Forsberg among others, it was the 23-year-old Lundqvist who saved the day, time and again, for Sweden, including in the gold medal game with less than one minute remaining to preserve a one-goal lead.


In the years that followed, Lundqvist proved that the remarkable start to his NHL career was not a fluke. For seven consecutive seasons, from 2006-07 through 2012-13, Lundqvist was named the Rangers’ Most Valuable Player. That streak of Team MVP Awards is a Rangers franchise record, one of more than 50 single-season and career records he would establish during his 15 seasons with the franchise.

Lundqvist’s career statistics reflect why he merits induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He is sixth on the NHL’s all-time wins list with 459 and has won more games than any other European-born goaltender in league history. Since the NHL began tracking save percentage in 1955-56, no goaltender posted a .920 SV% or better in a season more times than Lundqvist did (eight). He is a Vezina Trophy winner (and was a finalist in four other seasons), a five-time NHL All-Star, and a three-time Olympian, with an Olympic gold medal and an Olympic silver medal to his name. In 887 regular season appearances – all with the Rangers – only seven were games in which his team did not have a mathematical chance of making the playoffs. He played in Game 7 of a playoff series eight times in his career; he won six of them (tied with Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy for the most Game 7 wins in NHL history), with a 1.11 goals against average and a .961 save percentage.

As focused and dedicated as Lundqvist was to his on-ice performance, he had the perspective and realization about how he could make a difference in the world. Through his work with Garden of Dreams Foundation, as well as the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation, he gave back to his community, both in New York and in Sweden, and that is a commitment that he continues to make even as he has moved into the next chapter of his life.


It has been said that a Hall of Fame induction ceremony can serve as the final chapter of one’s career. It gives the person the opportunity to reflect on several of the memories they have from their career and, more importantly, a chance to say ‘thank you’ to the many people who helped them reach this pinnacle.

For the countless Rangers fans who will be watching the induction ceremony on TV or live in Toronto, the evening provides one more opportunity to say ‘thank you’ as well. Thank you for the belief you instilled in your team and in us. Thank you for the pride, passion, and dedication you showed while wearing a Rangers uniform. Thank you for the amazing memories and great moments you gave to all of us. Thank you for representing our organization with the class you showed, on and off the ice.

Thank you, Henrik Lundqvist. A Rangers legend, a New York icon, and now, a Hockey Hall of Famer.