by Patrick Hoffman on 04/15/13 at 11:35 AM ET
When looking at the New York Rangers since the 1997-98 season, it is easy to see that for close to decade, there were some rough seasons.
The team went seven straight years without making the postseason, had a lot of failed free-agent signings and ended up losing the likes of Brian Leetch, Mark Messier, Mike Richter, and Adam Graves to retirement or trade. For Blueshirt fans, it was a dark period.
The names mentioned above, however, all had terrific careers despite the bad times. As a result, each went down in Rangers' lore and ended up having their number retired and hung to rafters at Madison Square Garden.
This got to me thinking on the next Ranger that will have his number hanging from the rafters at the World's Most Famous Arena. As it turned out, it did not take me too long to come up with a player.
Henrik Lundqvist. This guy has done everything for this Rangers' franchise except win a Cup.
For starters, he is probably the second best goalie the Rangers' franchise has ever had. In fact, the "King" is second among Rangers' puck stoppers with 271 career wins, just 30 beyond franchise leader Mike Richter.
Secondly, he has been one of the most consistent players for the franchise. Not including this season, Lundqvist has seven straight seasons of at least 30 wins, a goals against average of 2.43 and at least two shutouts.
Lundqvist also help put the Rangers back on the map. Prior to Lundqvist's rookie season in 2005-06, the Rangers were practically irrelevant. When Lundqvist joined the team in 2005-06, everything changed for the better.
As a Ranger, Lundqvist has done the following:
- Won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder (2012) and was nominated for the award on three different occasions (2006, 2007, and 2008)
- Played in the All-Star Game (three times : 2009, 2011, and 2012)
- Made the NHL's First All-Star Team (2012)
- Was named the team's most valuable player six straight seasons (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012)
- Was nominated for both the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player (2012) and the Ted Lindsay Award for the most valuable player as voted by his peers
Again, while Lundqvist has yet to win a Cup with/for the Rangers, he deserves to have his number up in the rafters with all the other Ranger greats because when one thinks of Lundqvist and everything he has done for the Rangers' organization, he has been more the great.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.