Initially, Henrik Lundqvist wanted to stay in New York to prepare as if the 2012-13 season was starting on time and the New York Rangers would be looking improve on their Eastern Conference finals exit last May.
That was until word came down Friday that Sweden's Competition Authority ruled a league decision to ban NHL players from its top league during the NHL lockout violated Swedish anti-trust law. If you recall, Lundqvist's goalie roots go back to the Frolunda Indians of Elitserien, or the Swedish Elite League, the same team Lundqvist, along with his brother Joel, won a championship with during the last NHL lockout back in 2004-05.
Pat Leonard of the Daily News spoke with Joel Lundqvist on the subject of his brother returning home to play for the team he started with:
"I've talked to Henrik today actually, but I don't think the club has talked to him yet. We talked a little bit about it. We know it's a long way to go before it could happen, but we talked about it earlier (and) then this decision came today.
"Of course I think he would rather want to play in the NHL and get started over there, but if it's going to be a long lockout and stuff like that, he has to look for other options, and then Frolunda's a really good one, of course," Joel said. "It would be awesome to play together again, so we'll see what happens."
Lundqvist tweeted the other day his plans were to stay in New York to practice and, if the lockout persisted, to fly home to Sweden to visit family.
Now that Sweden's Competition Authority ruled NHL players can play for their teams, will he just be visiting family? When you examine where both the NHL and NHLPA currently stand in terms of CBA negotiations, there seems to be no end in sight, which would prompt Lundqvist to seriously explore his options on where to play until the NHL season starts, if at all.
What better place than to come home to where it all began? Nostalgia aside, and playing alongside his twin brother, Frolunda has an excellent chance at getting the NHL's Vezina-winning goalie from last season to join its ranks.
This ruling also brings up the possibility of other Rangers such as Carl Hagelin and Anton Stralman returning to Sweden to play. Hagelin was considering playing back in Sweden before the ban was lifted and now his chances of leaving for Europe look to go up greatly, especially since the youngster was not assigned to the AHL. Stralman is undecided at the moment, but did express he would return if his former team was interested in his services.
Since September 15, there's been a mass exodus of NHL players to Europe. Now that Sweden seems to be fair game, it'll only be a matter of time before Lundqvist and a host of other prominent players head to the Swedish Elite League.
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