Henrik Lundqvist strives to get better, and learn from the past season, this is why he is back on the ice in June. Johan Rylander is the beat reporter for Göteborgs Posten covering all things Frölunda HC, therefore he also get access to former players, and in this case New York Rangers long time goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist. In a long interview (a three page spread) after an ice practice at the start of June Mr. Rylander got the chance to ask Henrik Lundqvist some questions about last season and the future of Henrik’s goalkeeping. I have translated some of the highlights.
About last season and the mental challenge:
-”You know it will be tough [when the four big names left Rangers during the season], but I go in to a game with a will to win, but we weren’t good enough. We had many talented young players in the end - and the need games to prepare themselves for the future”.
This turned into a bit of a headache for Lundqvist.
-”We started to loose, we got a plenty of injuries, on top of that the management says we are going to start a rebuild. Mentally that became a problem. It took me three-four weeks to wrap my head around it, to really accept it”.
-”I have never ever in my 18 years at the top of the game, five years in Frölunda and 13 in New York Rangers, experienced that we wouldn’t ‘GO’ for it. Suddenly we were not suposed to fight for it. It was more important to develop the young players that we brought up to the team. There is lots of things around hockey I find exciting, but at the end of the day it comes down to winning games. It became an internal struggle, how do I deal with this? It lowered my feelings about the whole season”.
Mr. Rylander follows up, “Was there, at any point, a possibility that you would leave New York Rangers, when the club decided to not go for the cup?
-”No, never! We had an early talk, before everything broke. They told me what their thoughts were - and I just said: This is where I want to be. I have been here for twelve years, I’m all in. There was never even a question about an alternative.
Rylander again; “Because you can decide yourself where you play?”
-”Deciding, I have a no trade, but there are two parties of it. I want both parties to feel that it is the right thing. Rangers were happy to hear that I wanted to be part of it all, and it means a lot to me personally to be here the whole way of my contract. At least that is the plan.
Lundqvist wanted to go to the world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, but rangers were firm in their decision to not allow it.
-”We did an MRI scan and I needed the rest [because of his knee]. Previously we have injected cortisone, now we are injecting PRP. I can’t divulge to much about the injury, but it was still a bit injured since the season before. It healed up pretty good last summer, but then I re-injured myself sometime during the autumn, and I never really got healed up. It was under control, but it wasn’t optimal”.
About new coach David Quinn, and a new coach in general:
-”I have spoken to some of the guys that has had him [David Quinn] as a coach before and they all say that he is very good. Every time you get a new coach you have an opportunity to learn something new. It’s a new way of thinking. Every coach I have ever had has been extremely different. In their ways of dealing with the squad, how we are suposed to play. That is also exciting”.
-“We have many young and skilful defenders. It will be exciting too, it is an important summer for them to build themselves up. The way we played the last two months, when we dared to do a lot of things was good, but we need to be more smart. We need to know when we can try things and when we can’t. It will be a new feeling with a new coach, and there are many hungry players that will fight for positions”.
-”At the end of the season the players was a bit ‘I will try this’... and they really going for it! Many times it works out for them, but sometimes it wont. Therefore it becomes new situations for me as well, open chances. The players are more creative, because that is the way they have practices [growing up]. The skill level is much higher than it has ever been before, and everything goes faster”.
About improvement, summer training and developing his game:
-”I want to be part of the playoffs, I wouldn’t be here on the ice practicing in June, if i didn’t want to be there”.
This summer has ment more time on the ice, we are a few days into June and Lundqvist has been on ice a handfull of times already. Rangers goalkeeper coach Benoit Allaire will stay with the new coaching team and has sent list with a few points to improve to Lundqvist.
-”I know on what I need to work on. Hindsight has revealed what I need to work on and get better at. If we want to be nerds about it; I need to be more consistent in my game plan. It has helped me over the seasons. But the last seasons it has been more open chances andI have become more aggressive sometimes while at the same time I hold back at other times. My game has been varied. I want to be consequent and play the same way, my way, the whole time. I feel more secure when I know what I can expect from myself. I need to be quicker, more technique with my feet. That’s the main things”.
-”I can work with details, over and over again with things that I need. There is no stress. Sometimes there can be a stress when you start up in August, but now I feel I have plenty of time... I can take it slower, work a little bit more methodical, than if I started as normal, at the end of July”.
Aims and goals for next season:
Watching the Stanley Cup from afar is not something Henrik wants to experience again. “Of course you feel things when you sit there and the season is over, that we should not be in this situation again. But it is difficult, because we don’t know where we stand when the season starts. How fast can we turn this around? We can rebuild a team and it can take time, but it can also go faster than expected. You can’t sit here and say ‘we should win this’, but after the summer when we see the team we have we can set up aims and goals. I hope we can turn it around directly, but I can not guarantee that. Personally I want to be in a playoffs again”.
Thanks to Johan Rylander and the Gothenburg Post for letting us translate this to the best of our ability. The full article can be found here (paywall).