New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather had said on more than one occasion that it was a clear priority to sign goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a contract extension before the all-world netminder reached unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2014. Wednesday morning Sather proved true to his commitment, as the Rangers and Lundqvist agreed to terms on that highly-anticipated contract extension.
The news was made official at an afternoon press conference held at the MSG Training Center, which was attended by Sather, his assistant general managers Jeff Gorton and Jim Schoenfeld, head coach Alain Vigneault, Lundqvist, and the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Madison Square Garden Company, James Dolan.
"He is everything you would want on and off the ice," Dolan said of Lundqvist. "He's a leader, a tireless worker, and his focus on his game is basically unparalleled. As a team owner, he is the model of what you want in a player and a leader. In addition, he does some wonderful work with The Garden of Dreams Foundation, which we very much appreciate."
Lundqvist, too, proved true to his word, as he had repeatedly stated for quite some time that it was his desire to remain a New York Ranger, the only organization he has know since being drafted by the Blueshirts in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Draft and arriving from Sweden in time for the 2005-06 season.
"Two things were real clear to me," Lundqvist told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday. "No. 1 was I really want to win a (Stanley) Cup here. It's my biggest goal and it pushes me right now to work even harder. Secondly I want to be a Ranger for life. That was a big thing that became really clear to me. To picture myself anywhere else, it was just wrong. In my heart it was never an option to play anywhere else."
With Lundqvist secured as a Ranger for quite possibly the remainder of his career, it would be hard to imagine that by the end of this contract extension he would not own each and every important goaltending record in franchise history. Lundqvist has appeared in 531 career regular season games, posting a 284-182-57 record with 47 shutouts, a 2.26 goals against average, and .920 save percentage.
Lundqvist ranks second in club history in wins (17 behind Mike Richter) and shutouts (two behind Ed Giacomin, though Lundqvist's 55 combined shutouts in the regular season and playoffs is already a team record), and is fourth in appearances (135 behind Richter).
In five of his eight NHL seasons Lundqvist has been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, and he won the award in 2012. He has also won seven straight team MVP awards, has appeared in three NHL All Star Games, and is a two-time Olympian, who led Sweden to a gold medal in 2006.
Sather explained that negotiations between the Rangers and Lundqvist's agent Don Meehan were extremely professional, and there was never a moment of animosity. He also pointed out that it was important for the organization to take care of Lundqvist's contract before setting its focus on other players who are also nearing unrestricted free agency next summer.
"Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup," Sather said while standing next to Lundqvist. "It's up to you now Henry to carry us on your shoulders."