Since first stepping on the ice for New York Rangers in 2005, goalie Henrik Lundqvist, or “King Henrik” as he is known around Madison Square Garden, has become one of the premiere goalies in the NHL. After leading the Rangers to the top of their division and having his personal best season last year, the three-time NHL all star, 2006 Olympic Gold medalist and winner of the 2012 Veniza Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s best goaltender, eagerly waits for an end to the current NHL lockout and a chance to get back to work. (Note: Since DuJour’s interview with Lundquist was conducted, the lockout has ended and the NHL season has resumed.)
While his unorthodox “butterfly” stance and acrobatic saves have made him a fan favorite with hockey’s blue-collar faithful, his good looks and tailored suits have also made him an ideal ambassador for the sport off the ice as he has appeared in numerous magazines, including being named to People Magazine’s “World’s Most Beautiful People” list.
Thirty-year-old Swede Lundqvist, who grew up in a small ski town and began his career with Frölunda in Sweden’s Elitserien league, is a down-to-earth superstar who has put this notoriety to good use with a number of altruistic endeavors. Since 2009, he’s been the spokesperson for the MSG’s Garden of Dreams Foundation that grants wishes to children facing health obstacles. After bonding with tennis great John McEnroe over their mutual love of playing music, he and McEnroe formed the band “The Noise Upstairs” to play a concert benefiting the foundation earlier this year.
Most recently, Lundqvist’s been helping those affected by Hurricane Sandy, playing in a charity game with 32 of his fellow locked-out NHL stars and donating one of his trademark goalie masks that fetched $66,000 at a charity auction. While his primary concern is aiding those in need, Lundqvist realizes he benefits from his charity work as well, as it allows him to “keep perspective and realize you’re very lucky with what you do and what you have,” he says.
Unlike many New York sports superstars, Lundqvist seems to have the disposition to stay grounded amidst the chaos and distractions of living a major sports market such as New York. He leads what he describes as a “pretty normal” life in his adopted hometown of New York with his wife, Therese, and infant daughter. Throwing yourself in front of a hard rubber puck traveling upwards of 100mph night after night can be a taxing, high pressure job, and the opportunity to “disappear” into the crowd, quietly enjoying New York’s restaurants and music venues, gives Lundqvist a chance to maintain a balance that is crucial to his continued success. “You need to be able to relax off the ice to be able to perform on the ice,” he explains.
When asked about the lockout, Lundqvist can only describe it as “frustrating”—a brief answer to a question he’s undoubtedly answered several times a day for the past few months. He, along with the rest of the Rangers, are anxious to pick up where they left off last season, winning their division for the first time since 1994 only to suffer a disappointing loss to rival New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference finals. While the lockout has afforded him extra time to spend with friends and family and enjoy his new role as a father, his unfinished business on the ice weighs heavily on the king, “Hockey’s been such a big part of my life for such a long time… it’s been a weird fall.”