Lundqvist’s Legacy is on the line

Legacy: noun:  a gift by will especially of money or other personal property.

That’s the dictionary version of the word.

Over time, it has grown and taken on more meaning depending on its relativity to a situation. In the scientific world, it could mean a history changing discovery. For those in the medical field, a life saving cure or procedure. In sports, it’s nothing that important but it is what you leave behind to the game, your franchise, and its fans.

Lundqvist is STATISTICALLY the greatest Rangers goalie of all time.

If it all ended today for Henrik Lundqvist, he walks away the Rangers all time leader in:

  • Games Played: 742
  • Wins: 405
  • Shutouts: 61
  • SV%: 920 (min 82 games)
  • GAA: 2.82 (min 82 games)

He is currently 10th all time in NHL wins and can climb to 7th with 33 more victories this season. All this already qualifies him for the Hockey Hall of Fame and having his jersey number 30 retired to the Garden rafters.

Of course, he’s still not done.

Fair or Unfair, Great Legacies are built on Championships

Dan Marino is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in the NFL. He is ranked 5th in all time passing yards and TDs. Yet he has no championships. John Elway has 10,000 less passing yards and Eli Manning currently sits 13,000 behind Marino and both are revered higher. Why? Super Bowl rings on their fingers. It is that simple.

At the age of 35, time is not on Lundqvist’s side anymore. Heading into this upcoming season’s playoffs, Hank will be 36 years old. How many good years does he really have left? 2, maybe 3 more. Time is running out, and while winning a championship is solely not on any one person, it still used as a measuring stick when comparing against other greats.

The argument whether that’s fair to do so is pointless. You play sports to win, not rack up great stats. The end goal for any team and all players is to win, and championships are the ultimate goal.

Why Mike Richter is the Rangers’ Greatest

Mike Richter raises the Stanley Cup high. (Getty)

Let me set the stage. It’s June 7th, 1994 in game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in hostile Vancouver. The Rangers are up 2-1 in the best of seven series, but down 2-1 in the game. A loss here puts a ton of pressure on the team to win game 5 at home.

The Canucks are buzzing and a series defining moment is about to take place in the second period. Pavel Bure, the Canucks best player and possibly one of the fastest, most gifted snipers ever to play in the NHL, blows past Brian Leetch for a breakaway. Exhausted and with no choice, Leetch takes him down. Penalty shot!

What happens next, my feeble words could never properly describe.

That save by Mike Richter is widely considered to this day as the greatest save in Rangers history. Now let me ask you. If the Rangers would have lost that series and not won the Stanley Cup, would the save and Mike Richter be so fondly remembered? I think not. Matter of fact the modern day debate would not be Lundqvist or Richter, but Lundqvist or Giacomin.

Still, to put this in proper context there’s no debate from a hockey standpoint that Henrik Lundqvist is a greater goalie. He will be regarded by NHL historians as one of the greatest to ever defend a goal. However, when it comes down to fans who live and die with the Blueshirts, the debate will rage on fiercely.

The reason is simple. Mike Richter’s legacy is a Stanley Cup. He is the goalie that broke the 54 year curse and for that, he will be considered the greatest Rangers net minder ever.

Legacy on the Line

Lundqvist (Getty)

While Lundqvist’s hockey legacy is secure as one of the games’ greatest, his Rangers legacy is on the line. There may be many fans that will scoff at this notion, but they would be wrong.

Mike Richter did play on a team with Mark Messier and Brian Leetch. Matter of fact the 1994 team is probably one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Lundqvist has never had that benefit, but in today’s modern age of parity, his teams have been excellent.

The Rangers may lack the bonafide scoring superstar, but have a deep and talented lineup. This may also be the best defense Lundqvist has ever had in front of him too. So the clock is ticking and the excuses are running dry. The team and Lundqvist need to find a way to win a Stanley Cup.

If they do with Henrik in goal, the debate is over. No…the debate has been atomized! There would be no discussion to be had. Lundqvist would be the greatest goalie this franchise has ever seen.

Till then, the debate will rage on…and on…and on.

Summary
Article Name
Lundqvist Legacy on the line
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While Lundqvist will go down as one of the greatest NHL goalies in history, where will his Rangers legacy stand?
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21 comments

  • Good write up, but I personally hate the cups argument. My reasoning is simple, if Hasek never went to Detroit and won a cup at 38ish, Id still consider him one of the top of my generation.

    Anti Niemi has a cup and Hank/Price dont. While you can argue who is better Hank/Price if I gave you all 3 as your choice for goalie, your last pick is Niemi.

    • Totally agree. Hank has rewritten the Rangers record book and is head and shoulders above the rest. I was a big Richter fan but he too cant compete with what Hank has done for this organization.

      Winning a Stanley Cup is the icing on someone’s career not the make or break point of his legacy.

      And let’s get honest here too Eli Manning couldn’t hold Dan Marion’s jock strap. I haven’t come across one NFL who would take Eli over Dan Marino.

      • Again…the article never claims Eli is better. He is revered as one of the game’s clutch QBs. And Hank’s legacy is already one of the greatest ever to play. This is about where he sits amongst Rangers goalies…and many will say Richter’s Blueshirt legacy is the best.

    • You are correct. The argument isn’t about Hank’s legacy in the game but against Richter as the greatest NYR goalie.

      • I am a huge Richter fan, however Hank is this franchises greatest goalie hands down. Stanley Cup or not. Hank might even be the greatest Ranger who spent his entire career on Broadway.

        • Very possible. I would say that you can make the case that no NY athlete (other than perhaps Patrick Ewing), has been asked to do more to win a championship with no other future HOF talent around him than Hank. It’s quite a burden and frankly he’s been mostly remarkable considering the largely good but hardly great talent around him all these years.

  • I totally disagree with much of this. I’m sorry, on what planet is Eli Manning considered to be a better QB than Dan Marino? It wasn’t Marino’s fault that his teams weren’t good enough.

    I was and will always remain a huge fan of Richter–for all the reasons you mentioned. But let’s not forget he was brutally bad in the ’92 playoffs, and he was largely unremarkable in the playoffs that came after 1994.

    You are correct in mentioning that Richter had two future HOFers on that team in Messier and Leetch. He had what was arguably the “greatest team money could buy” when the economic system of the game was totally different than it is today. Such a team could not be assembled today–at least in the way the Rangers went about doing it.

    The Rangers have had “excellent” teams in the last decade? What exactly is your definition of excellence? They have no front line elite players at any position except in nets. McDonagh is probably the closest to that but even he falls well short in the discussion of the very best players at his position. Perhaps that will change this year with Shattenkirk on the team, but that remains to be seen.

    The Rangers made deep runs in 2012, 2014 and 2015 for three reasons. 1) they had quality depth players and leadership in the room with SC experience that made deep runs possible, 2) other more talented teams like Pittsburgh had key players significantly compromised due to injury and most importantly, 3) Hank pretty much stood on his head to get us as far as he did.

    Pittsburgh, Chicago and Washington are the epitome of what an “excellent” team is. The former two won multiple cups, while the latter has truly underachieved by falling short. The Rangers have had a decade plus of good to sometimes very good teams. But they have yet to have anythng close to “excellence” in terms of the players they put on the ice–except for the guy in goal.

    Hank’s legacy as the greatest goaltender in franchise history is more than secure–Cup or not.

    • No one thinks Eli is “better”, I used the term “revered”. That’s a bit different.

      • Fair enough….but even that, you REALLY think Eli Manning is more “revered” in NFL circles than Dan Marino? So are you also saying that Jeff Hostetler and Trent Dilfer are more “revered” because they won a SB and Marino didn’t? No way.

        If Don Shula could have the choice of starting Bob Griese in his prime or Dan Marino in his prime to try and win a championship…..with the ’72 Dolphins team….I have no doubt he would have gone with the more talented player. And hands down that was Marino.

        • Eli is no slouch…and I hate the Giants. His stats are beyond excellent. He’s going to there for almost 55000 yards at least.

          • And that’s ironic…since I am a HUGE Giants fan and greatly admire what Eli has accomplished. No doubt Eli is going to the HOF. But winning those SBs doesn’t make him more revered than Marino IMO.

          • Here’s another way to look at it. Tino Martinez vs Don Mattingly. Tino has 4 rings. Donnie baseball has zero. I think we all know which player is more revered–Mattingly.

            Tino was good. Very good. But Donnie in his prime was one of the best players in baseball and might have been a HOFer if not for his back betraying him. The Yankees simply weren’t good enough when he was playing. That does not in any way diminish his legacy.

        • This article is not asking whether or not Hank is the greatest goalie in the NHL or in NHL history, it’s asking if he is the greatest Rangers goalie ever. In the same way. the Eli argument is not comparing him to all QB’s, but to all Giants QB’s. To me he is the greatest Giants QB in team history, and Hank is the greatest Rangers goalie in team history. Saying Eli is probably not as revered as Marino may be true, but not to Giants fans, and saying Hank is not as revered as Dreyden is probably true as well, but not to Rangers fans.

  • Totally ridiculous. That’s like saying Eddie Giacomin’s legacy was on the line when he played. He was one of the greatest Rangers and NHL goalies ever AND a HHOFer. Gee, that really sucks. smh

    Or better yet, it’s like saying Eddie Olczyk belongs in the HHOF and Mike Gartner doesn’t b/c Eddie won a Cup and Mike didn’t. Just as absurd.

    Hank is a better goalie for WAY more reasons than just statistically. Richter, while a fabulous goalie for sure, had the luxury of playing the bulk of his career behind a bunch of future HHOFers including Leetch, Zubov, Mess, Lowe, Gretz etc, not to mention D stalwarts like Beuke. Hank has played behind Jagr for 3 years and MSL for one. That’s it for HHOFers. Other than that, he’s had the “luxury” to play behind some of the worst Ranger D’s in recent memory. C’mon! It’s not even close…Cup or no Cup.

    • I think everyone commenting is missing of the article. If Lundqvist’s legacy is to be the greatest goalie in NYR history without question, he needs a Cup. Otherwise, many will say Richter.

      • Was Dave Kerr the greatest Rangers goalie until 1994? Wasn’t close….. Eddie Giacomin was. Hank has secured his spot as top goalie in Rangers history.

        • Did Richter overtake Giacomin?

          • Since I wasn’t alive when Giacomin played, I can’t honestly compare his play to Richter. That’s arent to many fans who are alive who saw both of them play. Ranger fans of the 60’s and 79’s would take Giacomin hands down over Kerr. And Kerr had a Cup. So Hank’s legacy isnt hinged on him winning a cup one bit.

          • I didnt see Kerr. That was way before my time. But I did see Giacomin (thus my handle!) and of course those that followed.

            To me, I normally wait until a player’s career is done before I evaluate them. If I stuck with that, I’d go in this order of best Rangers goaltenders of the past 50 years–

            1. Giacomin
            2. Lundqvist
            3. Richter
            4. Beezer

            The only reason that today I would go with Eddie is because Eddie is in the HOF. Unless Hank totally implodes in his final four seasons, Hank will clearly be the best when he’s done.

            Back to Anthony’s comment about misssing the point of the article. I don’t think we are at all. You dont have to have a championship to be considered the best in franchise history. And it’s funny, you didnt comment on my Tino vs Mattingly comparison, which I think is the prime example of what I’m talking about.

            (And as I am writing this, I’m watching the Yankees and have seen several Mattingly jerseys. No Tino jerseys. Even with a franchise that measures its success with championships, fans can differentiate between a team accomplishment like a championship vs individual greatness. So no, we get it. We just don’t agree.)

  • I can’t believe nobody mentioned Skapski. He’s clearly the best of all time. The way he handled Buffalo his whole career was flawless. Seriously though I put Lundqvist at the top hands down. Then if I had to pick a few more that I’ve seen play I would take Giacomin and then Ritcher with Beezer real close. On a side note: Mattingly was the best ball player in baseball before his back problems. The only thing he couldn’t do great was run. He was just here at exactly the wrong time. He ca,e up in 82 the year after the Yanks went to the WS and he left the year before we started winning all those WS. I would put him up against anyone that I seen play other then Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. Of course it was late in their careers when I seen them play though. I’m sure there’s a few others of course but my point is Mattingly was outstanding

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