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30 Days of Lundqvist: Hank and the Rangers Visit Sweden

New York Rangers v Ottawa Senators Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

Before Henrik Lundqvist became The King in New York, he was backstopping Frolunda HC in his home country, Sweden. With Frolunda, Lundqvist appeared in 180 games over five years, recording an overall .927 save percentage and 1.86 goals against average.

With Frolunda he hit a number of milestones, winning championships in 2003 and 2005 and shattering Swedish national records in 2005 with the highest save percentage of .962, lowest goals against average of 1.05, most shutouts in a single season (6), and longest streak without allowing a goal (172 minutes, 29 seconds). That same season, he also earned the title of MVP of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), along with best player and goaltender in the league.

Lundqvist left Frolunda for the New York Rangers for the 2005-06 season, but it wasn’t the last time he represented his country between the pipes; he played for Team Sweden in the 2006 Olympics, where he won a gold medal, and the 2014 Olympics to capture a silver medal. Additionally, he again put on Sweden’s colors for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, as well as for the 2017 World Championship, where he backstopped his country to a gold medal.

In 2011, Lundqvist had a unique opportunity in NHL’s European exhibition games: to return to Gothenburg, Sweden to face off against Frolunda in a Rangers’ sweater. And not only did Henrik face his former club, but he faced his twin brother Joel.

Since this was just a preseason game, Lundqvist had the opportunity to really absorb the entire experience, which he described as “special in so many ways.” Before this homecoming game officially began, Lundqvist, illuminated by a spotlight, led his team onto the ice. The sellout crowd at Scandinavium Arena welcome Henrik back with a standing ovation and chants of “Hen-rik.”

Although it was an emotional night for Lundqvist, he still backstopped the Rangers to victory, collecting a 4-2 win against Frolunda.

Days later, the Rangers started the regular season in Stockholm, Sweden against the Los Angeles Kings. At Globe Arena, Lundqvist again received a warm welcome from his fellow Swedes as they celebrated his return to Swedish ice.

While the Rangers fell to the Kings, and then the Anaheim Ducks the following game at Globe Arena, it was nonetheless a memorable experience for Lundqvist as he returned to his roots in these games. In Sweden, Lundqvist gave his team, fans, and the hockey world a look at where he began his professional career – before he became The King.