The Decade Long Saga of Henrik Lundqvist: My Final Words On King Contract, Why Lundqvist is Overpaid, When Lundqvist Soured Me, Will the Rangers Ever Win With Hank and His Cap Hit, Examining the NHL & Goalie Position & Much More

 Ranger fans have seen this look at the end of a season too often

Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com, as we continue to wrap up the Rangers season. If you know me in real life, are a religious reader of these blogs or follow me on social media, you know my opinion on Henrik Lundqvist. I’ve been bitching about him all season. Once and for all, I will set the record straight on my thoughts about him and then leave it at that. I hope you read this blog all the way through, and maybe then you can understand my opinion, before automatically agreeing or disagreeing with me.

I truly hope you give this blog a full read through, to fully understand where I’m coming from. This is not a Talbot vs Lundqvist thing, this is purely a Henrik Lundqvist thing. This will be the last time I comment on Lundqvist, when it comes to salary. Even for the social media arguments, I am just going to post this link, rather than arguing the same points over and over.

Before starting, I just want to share a few links, in case you haven’t seen them already:

Is Henrik Lunqvist Overpaid? – My blog from 11/16/14 on this subject

NYR End of The Year Blogs:

NYR/TBL Game 7 Recap: The Worst Loss of My Adult Life

NYR Post Season Report Card: Grading Every Player

NYR Off Season Blog: Who Stays & Who Goes and Assessing Every Contract

NYR Media Day: Opinions On All The News & Player Interviews

NYR 2014-2015 Pictorial Year In Review

As you can tell, I’m a diehard Ranger fan. At the same time, I can look at my team objectively and I don’t just root blindly for the team. If you’re happy with another playoff exit and go the optimist route, then good for you. However, as I’ve said, this season was a bust. You can blame the injuries or whatever else, but bottom line, this season ended in disappointment.

People will talk to you about Nash’s contract, MSL under-performing in the playoffs, defensive lapses or whatever, but at the end of the day, when you look at the team’s make-up, compared to every other team in the league, simply put, you can’t pay a goaltender 12% of team payroll in today’s salary cap NHL. Let’s look at the team’s most expensive player and his value for this team.

Lundqvist lost 3 OT games in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals and blew several two goal leads

There is no denying what Henrik Lundqvist has meant to the Rangers in his 10 years as a Blueshirt. Here’s just a small synopsis of his accomplishments:

– Only goaltender in NHL history to record 30 wins in each of first seven seasons.

– Most shutouts by a goaltender in Madison Square Garden.

– New York Rangers club record, games played, single season: 73 (2009–10).

– The Rangers all-time leader in shutouts—regular-season and playoffs combined.

– Most wins (339) by a New York Rangers goaltender.

– Most shutouts (55) by a New York Rangers goaltender.

–  Most Playoffs wins (54 ) by a New York Rangers goaltender.

–  Consecutive Game 7 wins (6).

Aside from those accomplishments, Lundqvist has been decorated with several awards during his NYR career. Here’s a few:

– 2012 Vezina Trophy Winner (Also nominated in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013)

– 3 Time All-Star (Keep in mind Hank missed All-Star games because of lockouts/Olympics)

– NY Rangers MVP from 2007-2013. He won’t get it this year, unless the team continues to blow smoke up his ass.

– All Rookie Team 2006

– Steven McDonald Award winner in 2006

– Hart Memorial Trophy in 2012

– Ted Lindsay Award 2012

Away from the Rangers, Lundqvist won an Olympic Gold Medal in Ice Hockey, when his motherland of Sweden won the tournament in 2006.

He will eventually be a first ballot NHL Hall of Famer, in addition to having his number 30 retired and hanging in the MSG rafters one day. He is one of the Top 10 greatest Rangers of all time, in a team with a near 90 year history. He has been one of the best goaltenders in the league for a long time. I am not denying how great he was or is, or what an important player he’s been for the franchise. There’s no debating how much he’s done and accomplished for the franchise.

So, you may ask yourself, what’s my problem? Simply put the money doesn’t justify the means. At the end of the day, the one accomplishment you don’t see anywhere on Hank’s resume is Stanley Cup Winner. And since December of 2013, when he signed his new deal, it’s no one else’s fault but his.

Lundqvist forced to shake hands with a Stanley Cup Champion, Tuukka Rask

Like many Ranger fans, I was always a huge Henrik Lundqvist fan. I mean, how couldn’t you be, as a Rangers fan? He was consistently their best player and by far. While this blog didn’t exist then, I always commented to my friends that the Rangers let Lundqvist down by giving him no support.

I mean, just imagine Lundqvist on any of the recent Bruins, Blackhawks or Penguins teams. Lundqvist on any of those squads, in recent years, would translate into a Stanley Cup for him. It’s not even debatable. Very rarely, until recently, has Lundqvist’s play been the reason for a Rangers loss. Even during this playoff run, you could only blame him for one game, and that was Game 3 of the ECF, despite the other touchdown he gave up in Game 2 of that series.

Great GM’s know when to cut bait on a player. I’m not saying Lundqvist is bad or anything, but to me, he definitely peaked in that 2012 season. No one was better, as an individual, in that 2012 season and postseason. You can make a case for Jonathan Quick, but Lundqvist was better from the second preseason started, until the ECF elimination loss to the Devils.

I respect and appreciate what Lundqvist has done for this franchise. I don’t forget. However, we live in the now. We can be nostalgic when Lundqvist retires. In the city of NY, where you are judged on championships, I am harsher on Lundqvist than most, and I’ll explain why below.

While Lundqvist has been one of the top goalies in the NHL for some time, when you talk legendary NY athletes, of the last 10, 15, 20 years, Lundqvist belongs on the bottom of the list, way behind the likes of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Eli Manning and Michael Strahan.

Unless a miracle happens, Lundqvist will always be on the top of the list that includes people like Patrick Ewing, Mike Piazza, The NY Jets, Carmelo Anthony and Michael Kay! (Mike Francesa will always be KING and has two Marconi’s to show for it! Yes, this was my shout-out to MONGO nation!)

For me, Lundqvist “made his heel turn”, on the Rangers franchise, during his last contract negotiations. Let’s dig deeper into why.

Hank, after losing another playoff series, this time the 2012 ECF, shaking hands with someone who won 3 Cups & was the best goaltender in the Metro area for most of Hank’s career, the legendary Marty Brodeur.

Henrik Lundqvist is a very paid man. He is a very successful man. He is one of the few rare hockey players that makes a ton of income, away from the ice. He is one of the most recognizable faces in the NHL. Like a Michael Strahan, he has a face for a TV and has adorned the cover of many magazines. He is stylish. He is a fashion plate. He’s one of the richest hockey players in all of the world. However, the way Henrik Lundqvist handled his contract negotiations, in December of 2013, soured me on him. We all know this about sports, it’s about the money, but it was that time, that I realized, Lundqvist is just another greedy selfish athlete.

I understand the shelf life of players isn’t long. You got to make your money now. However, Lundqvist has already had his big contract. When he signed his 7 year extension in December of 2013, a contract that puts him in NY (He has a No-Trade/Move clause) until he’s 40 years old, it was the second big money contract of his career. At $8.5 million a year, for 7 years, Lundqvist is far and beyond, the highest paid goaltender in the NHL and takes up 12% of team payroll.

I understand if  you’re a young guy and want to make your money. For Lundqvist, he has money coming in from so many places. The restaurant. His own clothing line at MSG. His own TV show on the MSG network. Endorsements. Modeling gigs. So when I have said that Lundqvist could’ve taken a little less, trust me, the man & his family are never going to bed hungry.

What really drives me nuts is what a hypocrite Hank was. Why do I call Hank a hypocrite? Very simple, and feel free to stop me if you heard me give this spiel before.

Before Hank’s contract negotiations, Hank said he wanted to win a Cup, in NY, at all costs. That quote has always stuck with me, just like the quote where Hank said “Give me two goals, and I got this.” That sure has burnt him in the ass in recent years, especially in that LA series last year.

When Hank says, “I want to win a Cup in NY, at all costs”, it’s up to you to decide how literally you want to take that. For me, as a diehard nutjob of a fan, I take that very fucking literally.

After Hank says these nice little things, what does he do? The summer of 2013, after the Bruins playoff loss, he gets Torts fired. No doubt about it, Hank was the reason Torts was fired. Google the stories at that time if you need confirmation. In fact, it was so well known that Hank got Torts fired that he had to issue a press release stating the opposite, just to fan the flames. It was a total BS and transparent release to appease Lundqvist.

Should’ve Torts been fired? Sure, he ran his course. However, Hank made it clear that if Torts was back, he wouldn’t be. What was Dolan (WHO LOVED TORTS more than any other Rangers coach under his employ) and Glen Sather supposed to do? Let their cash cow walk?

In case you didn’t hear, after the 2012-2013 lockout/truncated season, the NHL enforced a strict salary cap, where today, it’s currently $69 Million. This is not like baseball where you pay a luxury tax/fine if you go over. This is not like football where you can restructure contracts like Tom Brady often does. These are guaranteed contracts, with guaranteed cap hits. No ways around it.

So again, “I want to win a Cup, in NY, at all costs”. That burns my brain. After saying that, Hank gets Torts out of town (deservingly so), then teases Free Agency in the media! Are you nuts? How does Sather respond? After going back and forth on trying to get Hank to take a minimal raise, because you know, Hank is much older, has a ton of miles on him, and has never won anything to guarantee/earn a huge payraise, like say Eli Manning or Derek Jeter,  Sather panics and opens up the books for Lundqvist. It was that day where I said for the first time, “The Rangers will never win a Cup with Henrik Lundqvist.”

http://2.cdn.nhle.com/rangers/images/upload/gallery/2011/04/113115447_slide.jpg
2011, losing a goaltending battle to the big bad Michal Neuvirth (Who is currently the back-up goalie of the NYI)

What hurts as a Rangers fan is how hypocritical Hank was come contract time. What hurts even more is when you take this into account:

NHL TOP GOALTENDING SALARIES for the 2011-2012 Season per year

(To me, Hank was at his absolute prime in this season)

1. Henrik Lundqvist – $6.9M

2. Cam Ward (Carolina) $6.3M

3. Ryan Miller (Buffalo) $6.275M

4. Niklas Backstrom (Minnesota) $6M

5. Miikka Kiprusoff (Calgary) $5.83M

2012 Stanley Cup Winner, LA Kings with goalie Jonathan Quick, who was paid $1.8M, the 30th highest paid goalie in the league.

NHL TOP GOALTENDING SALARIES for the 2012-2013 Season per year

1. Pekka Rinne (Nashville) $7M

2. Henrik Lundqvist $6.9M

3. Carey Price (Montreal) $6.5M

4. Cam Ward (Carolina) $6.3M

5. Ryan Miller (Buffalo) $6.275M

2013 Stanley Cup Winner, Chicago Blackhawks with goalie Corey Crawford, who was paid $2.6M,  the 28th highest paid goalie in the league.

NHL TOP GOALTENDING SALARIES for the 2013-2014 Season per year

1. Tuukka Rask (Boston) $7M

2. Pekka Rinne (Nashville) $7M

3. Henrik Lundqvist $6.9M

4. Carey Price (Montreal) $6.5M

5. Cam Ward (Carolina) $6.3M

2014 Stanley Cup Winner, LA Kings with goalie Jonathan Quick, who was paid $5.8M, the 8th highest paid goalie in the league.

NHL TOP GOALTENDING SALARIES for 2014-2015 Season per year

1. Henrik Lundqvist $8.5M

2. Tuukka Rask (Boston) $7M

3. Pekka Rinne (Nashville) $7M

4. Carey Price (Montreal) $6.5M

5. Cam Ward (Carolina) $6.3M

Eastern Conference Champion Tampa Bay Lightning goalie, Ben Bishop comes in at $2.3M, the 29th highest paid goalie in the league.

Western Conference Champion Chicago Blackhawk goalie, Corey Crawford comes in at $6M, tied for 6th place highest paid goalie in the league.

IN OTHER WORDS – HENRIK LUNDQVIST IS OVERPAID. YOU DO NOT NEED TO GIVE 12% OF PAYROLL TO A GOALIE IN TODAY’S NHL!

Another Game 7 loss for Lundqvist, this time blowing the lead in the game in 2009

When you break it all down, knowing the winners and losers of games and what everyone is paid, there is no denying that Lundqvist is overpaid. He’s one of the most overpaid players in the NHL. Simply put, with a strict salary cap, you can’t give your starting goalie 12% of payroll.

Now this is where everyone calls me out for being a Talbot fanboy. Put this in perspective. How great were Fleury & Holtby in their games with the Rangers in these playoffs?

Fleury gets $5M a year, and is the 15th highest paid goalie in the league. He’s also won a Stanley Cup. Holtby gets $1.85M a year, and is the 34 highest paid goalie in the league.

Are you telling me right now, that the Rangers couldn’t have gone as far or further with either Fleury or Holtby this year and for considerably less?

If you rode Talbot like I said I would’ve done from day one, Talbot only cost $575,000 this season and will be $1.45 million next year. Not one team in the league would take Hank’s contract, unless the Rangers took some of the tab, but say in a perfect world, you’re able to dump Hank’s contract. You would save $7M against the cap! That is huge fucking money! That’s 10% of payroll! You know much offense the Rangers could find with 10% of the cap open/$7M to play with?

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five
Who knew in 2008 that Hank would still be Cupless in 2015?

Everyone is talking about windows closing. I get it. The Rangers have had some strong finishes as of late. They’ve appeared in three out of the last four Eastern Conference Finals. They lost a Cup Final. However, especially in NY, this is all for naught without a Stanley Cup. I don’t think the Rangers can win a Stanley Cup with Henrik Lundqvist. Not because of how he plays, but because of his contract.

His contract is the biggest detriment in getting help. Look at the teams who have won the Cup during Lundqvist’s tenure in the league. Aside from Quick being absolutely lights out the whole 2012 playoff run, has any goalie stolen the Stanley Cup all by themselves? Realistically, with this strict, and small salary cap, you need to spread the money out more evenly.

The Rangers core is there. The defense is one of the best in the league. The biggest difference between last year’s Cup team and this year’s Bust team were the four lines. This year’s fourth line couldn’t hold a candle to last year’s fourth line. However, you can’t keep everyone because of the Cap, and when a goalie is getting 12% of payroll, you are limiting yourself on what kind of help you can get.

The Rangers may be one or two pieces away from running the table next season. However, it’s going to be tough to get those pieces. This isn’t like the other sports. Very rarely do you have a Hasek or Bourque, who sign on for one year to win a Cup. Players want to be paid. Why else would someone like a Benoit Pouliout go to Edmonton?

What hurts the most is that Hank is already paid. He has all the money coming in. If he truly, truly, truly cared about winning the Cup, he would’ve taken less, in an effort for the team to get him more help offensively. At the end of the day, he’s not a King on the ice, but a King in contract negotiations. Even Lebron James, another person who calls himself King, took a paycut to win championships. In Lundqvist’s case, he’s just another greedy fat cat athlete.

 Buffalo Sabres' Chris Drury (23) puts the puck past New York Rangers' Martin Straka, second from left, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist, left, to score as Fedor Tyutin, lower right, moves in during the second period of their hockey game, Sunday, May 6, 2007 at Madison Square Garden in New York.  (AP Photo/Ed Betz)
In 2007, the Sabres had no issues with Lundqvist

I can hear the feedback now. What about Rick Nash? Boyle’s contract sucks! Rangers would’ve won with Zuccarello. How come you’re not complaining about Tanner Glass?

Let’s get it straight. Lundqvist was the best player for the Rangers in the playoffs. My point, and the whole point of this blog, is that it’s not enough. Would you rather see Lundqvist win the Stanley Cup or the NEW YORK RANGERS win a Stanley Cup?

In a league where rules are always being adjusted to favor higher scoring and where goalies are always at a disadvantage, unless the salary cap is significantly raised or done away with, it doesn’t look probable that the Rangers will win a Stanley Cup.

And please – spare me on the “He’s the only reason we went this far” talk. Did you even watch the regular season? Hank was blown out 9 times, wasn’t even an All-Star, went 0-3 against Tampa, and wasn’t even in the top half of the league in GAA or SV% when he went down. Talbot put the Rangers on a hot streak, beat every team Hank lost to (Islanders & Boston stick out) and along with the team, was part of the reason why they won the President’s Trophy.

Talbot is a different goalie than Lundqvist. He’s better with the puck. The team plays better in front of him. You can’t say that Hank is the reason we went this far. Talbot could’ve taken them further for all you know. What we do know for fact is that Lundqvist has been in the NHL now for 10+  years and while having a great individual career, has not been able to bring his team the Cup. To even be considered with the likes of Brodeur, Hasek, Roy, Dryden, Richter, Vezina or whoever else you have in  your Top 10 goalies of all time, he needs to win that Cup. If he can’t, just like Metallica said, he will always be KING NOTHING.

Easily the best 7th round draft pick goalie of all time, here’s Hank in 2000

Lundqvist still has 6 years left on his contract. The cap will go up, if the league continues to trend upwards, economically. The problem is Lundqvist is getting older and older and has tons of miles on him. He will regress as his cap hit lessens. I would be stunned if the NHL doesn’t have another lockout in 2022, when the current CBA expires. Who knows if Lundqvist is still around then, even if he’s just trying to latch on to win a cup elsewhere. Maybe he’ll get it done in Las Vegas!?!?!

For a man who is always quick to blame his team mates in press conferences but rarely takes the blame for his losing performances, Lundqvist is a tough guy to read. You will always hear how starting pitchers, field goal kickers and goalies are weird people, because of all the pressure they deal with daily. However, I can get why Lundqvist is never seen with his teammates socially, he doesn’t have time for them with everything else he does and because of the goalie personality. Then again, Cam Talbot and Ryan McDonagh are posting pictures in the Bahamas together, going to Yankee games together and are always hanging out. You see Zucc/Brass/Hags always together. You see the team hanging out together away from the games, fairly often, on social media.

We are far from the day, but I won’t be surprised, Cup or no Cup, when Hank retires and his career is 5 years past him, where you have ex-teammates talking about a weird guy he was. While Messier is Messier, he will never have that type of personality. There’s only so much you can do as a goaltender, you can’t score the goals, and that’s why you don’t give a goalie 12% of your salary cap. Everyone says it’s a team game anyway. He can’t dominate a game like Toews, Kane, Ovechkin, Tavares, Johnson or Perry. You gotta do something with that contract and beef up the offense, if you want to see a Stanley Cup back at MSG.

Cam Talbot Trade Possibilities
The man who I want as starter! In Cam We Trust

As we wait out a long summer, just to go through the whole process and chore of a regular season, it really does suck that we have to wait a year to get back to this point. Hopefully the tone of these blogs will be more positive then.

As far as offseason plans, you can check out the blogs I linked above. I plan on tackling different subjects once a week, such as the “Death of MSG” and other Ranger related topics. If the Rangers make a trade/signing, I’ll post the news story with my opinions with it.

Again, thank you to everyone for giving DOINOW.com a chance. We will be changing the name of this site for the new season.

As always and forever,

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

Comments

  1. You absolutely nailed it. I had a knot in my gut when the extention was announced and now it looks like Sather is stepping off… WTF

  2. Thanks Sean, cant say I agree with you but your logic is impeccable. I too wish we could somehow reset and start right away again, we’ll see what transpires in the offseason, Skapski getting hurt might be a blessing in disguise.

  3. Well written article that I agree with in principle for the most part with one exception: Our defense is way overrated and far from being one of the best in the league for following reasons:
    -McDonagh who is hands down our best defenseman may hit his watermark stats wise in the 2014-15 season and his game was average at best this past season.
    -Staal’s game is definitely in decline as he is no longer a factor vs teams that are big and physical(like LA last year) or very fast(like Tampa Bay this year).
    -Girardi is a warrior but his game has also peaked and is headed for decline because of all the minutes he’s logged in the past 5 years!
    -Low balling Stralman(as Sather did) and replacing him with a pretty much shot D Boyle was a major gaff!
    -Klein, solid all season, was a shell of himself during the playoffs and he doesn’t his game is very limited.
    -Yandle, whose contract is up next season, looks to be a small market player and I’m not sure if resigning him for what would be 6 mil or so is such a good idea!

    If I’m the GM, I do everything possible to cut the cord with D Boyle and I would give McIIrath a spot on the 3rd pairing and sink or swim with him!
    There’s also Brady Skjel who might be ready to grab a spot!

    Regards,
    Andrew

  4. You make some points bit laxknthe fact that as the cap goes up his % goes down and as other big time goalies gonto resign 8 to 9 million range. Also you mention messier in your blog and call yourself objective. Yes messier brought us a cup but then he also walked out on the rangers at a time if he had stayed we had a few year window to win another.

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