And now Henrik Lundqvist has the Stanley Cup in his hands as the New York Rangers continue to celebrate!
No, we have not gone mad and forgot that Henrik Lundqvist is now a member of the Washington Capitals but, rather, we have attempted to predict what the future may look like.
See, while New York Rangers fans are still not over the heartbreaking divorce with their franchise icon this offseason (you can firmly include me in that category), they were given an unexpected gift on Monday.
Speaking to Johan Rylander of the Goteborgs-Posten, Lundqvist revealed that there is already an agreement in place for the legendary goaltender to return to Madison Square Garden one day.
“I’ll be a part of the Rangers for the rest of my life, in one way or another. Both I and the Rangers have been clear about that. That’s how it will be.
“It will be the role they want it to be. I don’t know if the role will be small or if there will be something more. It is further ahead. It’s all about timing. It’s just not now.
– Henrik Lundqvist via Swedish translation
That will be sweet music to the ears of Rangers fans the world over, and it just proves the love that still exists between Lundqvist and the Blueshirts in the wake of what was a less than perfect ending to that relationship.
And, let’s get one thing clear before we move on, the New York Rangers were absolutely right to buyout Lundqvist given the stage they are at in their rebuild, coupled with the fact that both Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev are very clearly the future for this storied franchise.
It was a tough way to part with a franchise icon, but this is life and, at the end of the day, sports is a cut-throat business.
Anyway, back to the business of the day and it is brilliant that there seems to be some kind of gentleman’s agreement in place that ensures Lundqvist will return to the organization he helped put back on the map once his playing days are over.
While it is perhaps realistic to think that role could be an ambassador for the franchise, we have seen former Ranger Rick Nash slide straight into a Special Assistant to the General Manager role with the Columbus Blue Jackets once he hung up his skates.
No matter how big or small the role is the Rangers have handpicked for Lundqvist, however, there is no doubt in my mind that the 38-year-old would make a tremendous General Manager in the National Hockey League one day.
For starters, he played in the hotbed market of New York for the vast majority of his career and is well aware of everything that comes with playing in one of the biggest sports markets in the country.
Lundqvist is used to how the New York media loves you when things are going well and hates you when things take a steep nosedive, while he knows the Rangers organization inside out as well as the overall market.
Secondly, Lundqvist is as a much-loved and well-respected figure as you can get in the sport of hockey, so that should only serve him well when dealing with other General Managers and front offices.
You also get the sense from how he is with teammates that players would absolutely love playing for and working with Lundqvist, and he should have some idea when it comes to how to construct a team given some of the notable names he has worked with throughout his career, including Glen Sather who knows a thing or two about putting a winner out on the ice.
Now, granted, it is likely that Lundqvist will take on a much smaller role with the New York Rangers to start with given that current General Manager Jeff Gorton is doing a stellar job so far, while Assistant GM Chris Drury appears to be a ready-made replacement.
However, as we’ve seen with Rick Nash with the Blue Jackets and with Martin Brodeur for the New Jersey Devils, there is a template there for a franchise great to be integrated into the front office and still make a sizeable impact.
I mean, it was revealed by NBC Sports Chicago this week that Brodeur played a key role in the Devils signing two-time Stanley Cup Champion Corey Crawford in Free Agency, with the Devils using one of the best to ever put on the pads to sell the franchise to Crawford.
Lundqvist could be used in a similar way by the Rangers, in addition to carrying on all the outstanding charity work he did while playing for the franchise, which could pave the way for the future Hall of Famer to one day take up the GM mantle for the team he will always be associated with.
So, while it will be difficult to see Henrik Lundqvist in a Washington Capitals jersey in 2020-21, New York Rangers fans should at least be comforted by the fact that their hero looks set for a glorious return to the franchise once he has finished.
And, who knows, we might get to see Lundqvist finally lift the Stanley Cup as a New York Ranger one day, but in the capacity of General Manager rather than as a player.