For those of you reading this who are hockey fans, you know that Henrik Lundqvist is a superstar within the sport. If you do not follow hockey and don't know who Lundqvist is, here's your chance.
Lundqvist has failed to become a superstar that transcends his sport. LeBron James has transcended basketball, Derek Jeter has transcended baseball and former player Brett Favre transcended football, among other stars. Lundqvist is behind stars like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin in this regard.
But Lundqvist could be the superstar that can be the most marketable in the NHL. Here are five reasons why Lundqvist is capable of doing this.
The New York Rangers selected Lundqvist with the 205th overall pick in the 2000 NHL draft. Yes, you did read that right. He was drafted behind his twin brother, Joel, who was selected with the 68th overall pick by Dallas.
Just for reference, Lundqvist was the seventh pick of the Rangers in a draft in which they took Filip Novak, Dominic Moore, Premysel Duben, Nathan Martz, Brandon Snee and Sven Helfenstein.
People love an underdog story, and Lundqvist's selection is a great story to tell fans who don't know about Lundqvist's past.
Also, the reason he became a goaltender is because when he was a boy in Sweden, his hockey coach asked if anybody wanted to play goalie. His brother Joel raised Henrik's hand for him, and the legend was born.
No player in the NHL has the marketability of Henrik Lundqvist if the Rangers can find a way to win the Stanley Cup. Everyone agrees that the Rangers only go as far as Lundqvist takes them. If the Rangers win the Stanley Cup sometime during Lundqvist's career, the bulk of the praise should be put on Lundqvist.
Lundqvist would not only capture the hearts of New York, but he has the good looks and personality to make himself into an international figure.
Henrik Lundqvist is already a national star in his native Sweden. Recently on the Rangers' European trip, they played an exhibition game against his former Swedish team, Frolunda HC. Lundqvist was given a plaque and a standing ovation for his time at Frolunda, where he won two Swedish championships.
In addition, Lundqvist helped Sweden win the hockey gold medal at the 2006 Olympics in the pinnacle of his career so far.
If Lundqvist can win in America, his popularity here and in Europe would only rise. His popularity in Europe (especially in the Scandinavian countries) would be through the roof.
Whenever Lundqvist does an interview, he speaks like a normal guy and doesn't act like a snob, but comes off as a genuinely nice guy. I've heard stories that he'll walk his dog in Manhattan just to go for a stroll. He embraces the New York fans and they embrace him.
His competitive fire is what I love most about him.
He seems to think going into every game that he cannot allow a goal and when he does, he looks pissed at himself. He thinks he should stop every shot, and that's what I want from my goaltender.
I'll never forget the last game of the 2010 season where the Rangers were eliminated from playoff contention in the shootout against the Flyers. After Olli Jokinen missed the last shot, Lundqvist stormed to the locker room and slammed his stick, while the rest of the team moved emotionless to the locker room. (Jokinen banged his stick, I'm pretty sure, but no Ranger fan cared. We don't like Olli Jokinen)
I'll admit it. I'm spoiled as a Rangers fan. The reason that the Rangers have so much hope for the future is because Lundqvist's talent covers up so many holes for the Rangers. The Rangers' oldest defenseman last season was Steve Eminger at 27 (that's not counting Bryan McCabe at the end of the season, if you even count McCabe as a defender). Somehow the Rangers still ended with the fifth best defense in the NHL.
Lundqvist is somewhat underrated at times.
For example, last season he didn't get nominated for the Vezina Trophy despite having 11 shutouts and an inexperienced defense. Without Lundqvist, the Rangers don't even sniff the playoffs last season or even in 2010 (not taking anything away from the other three goaltenders nominated last season).
If Lundqvist becomes a superstar, his play on the ice will be the ultimate factor. He has been one of the best goalies in the NHL since he broke into the Rangers' lineup in 2005-06.
This is me being a huge homer: I would rather have no other goaltender in the NHL than Henrik Lundqvist for my team. His competitive fire and talent make him an ideal goalie for New York and the fans have embraced him. Lundqvist makes the Rangers a dangerous team for the future, and the future has been put on his shoulders.
If he can lift the Stanley Cup with the Rangers, he would take over New York as a superstar as well as grow his national reputation. He would become a face of hockey to the casual fan or the sports fan who doesn't pay much attention to hockey. He would only make himself the biggest star in Sweden as well, if he wasn't already.
Just a quick about-me: I'm a new NHL Featured Columnist after finishing the B/R summer/fall internship. I'm looking forward to interacting with my readers as well as build a relationship with them. For more about me go to my profile.
Thanks for the read and feel free to comment.
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