Thursday, May 26, 2022

WATCH: Rangers retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 jersey ahead of game against Wild

New York Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 jersey will now forever hang in Madison Square Garden. The Rangers held a jersey-retirement ceremony for the former Vezina Trophy-winning goalie before Friday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, a contest in which all Rangers players are wearing No. 30 to honor Lundqvist. 

Lundqvist played with the Rangers for his entire 15-year career, making two All-Star teams and winning the Vezina Trophy for being the league’s best goalie in 2011-12. He retired after the 2019-20 season at age 37.

The Rangers crowd flooded MSG with “Hen-rik” chants before Lundqvist made it onto the ice, and once he did they gave him a rousing standing ovation. The energy remained palpable through the raising of his banner. 

An emotional Lundqvist thanked family and friends during his speech, but he directed his biggest shoutout to the Rangers fans who watched his storybook of a career unfold page-by-page. 

“I’m so happy I get an opportunity to say thank you,” Lunqvist told the MSG crowd. “Thank you to all the amazing fans in here and around this great city. You have supported me throughout my career. 

“It’s been an amazing experience, and It has given me so much joy. And it has definitely played a huge part in making my journey so special, so thank you to everyone in here and around the city.” 

Before Lundqvist made his speech, the Rangers presented him with gifts. Former tennis star John McEnroe gave Lundqvist a guitar designed by Dave Gunnarsson, who also designed Lundqvist’s goalie masks. Lundqvist also got a framed display of each puck from his 64 career shutouts along with team-signed bottles of wine. 

A seventh-round pick of the Rangers in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Lundqvist quickly surpassed expectations and set numerous franchise records: He is first all-time in games played among goalies (887), wins (459), saves (23,509), save percentage (.918), shutouts (64) and minutes (51,818). The 39-year-old’s save percentage and win total rank 11th and sixth, respectively, in NHL history.

Lundqvist is the 11th player in the Rangers 95-year history to have their jersey retired, joining Ed Giacomin (No. 1), Brian Leetch (No. 2), Harry Howell (No. 3), Rod Gilbert (No. 7), Andy Bathgate and Adam Graves (No. 9), Mark Messier and Vic Hadfield (No. 11), Jean Ratelle (No. 19) and Mike Richter (No. 35). 

Many current and former Rangers congratulated Lundqvist before the ceremony, including one whose Rangers jersey is already retired in Richter. 

“I have so much respect for how you approach the game, the level of professionalism and just absolute perfection you squeeze from yourself every night, and it showed across your career,” Richter said. 

“Growing up, it was so much fun watching you play and seeing you at MSG,” said Rangers defenseman Adam Fox, a former Norris Trophy winner and All-Star. “It’s such an honor being able to play with you for a year and get to know you a little bit and see what a great person you are, too. So, really happy for you, and no one deserves it more.” 

Lundqvist was more than a hockey star during his playing days; he was a walking legend in New York. The city’s other sports icons took notice, and they gave their congratulations. 

“Not a better person, more deserving to get their number retired than you,” former New York Giants quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning said. “What an unbelievable career, in New York, as the goalie, as the leader. You were the man.” 

“You had a great career, you were a great Ranger, and congratulations,” former New York Yankees pitcher and Cy Young winner CC Sabathia said. “What an honor.” 

The Rangers are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 28-12-4 record under first-year coach Gerard Gallant. With the environment in MSG electric after Lundqvist’s jersey retirement, they will have a strong chance to build on their promising campaign against Minnesota. 

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