LOS ANGELES - It is an iconic moment in New York sports history, captured by photographers 20 years ago. Old photographs can generate many sentiments: love, loss, a sense of times past.
For Henrik Lundqvist, a 1994 photo of the Rangers parade down the Canyon of Heroes that hangs in a corridor at the team's training complex in Westchester has been one thing: inspirational.
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"I've been walking by that photo every day for nine years and I've seen myself being there," said Lundqvist, who arrived here from Sweden in 2005. "I definitely want to go there. There's [Mark] Messier, there's guys on the buses, there's people everywhere, just entire New York celebrating. It's a sports town; when things start going well for any team in that town -- we've seen the Yankees and Giants -- you see what happens to that city, and what it would mean to this organization. It would be special to be part of."
On the cusp of the Stanley Cup Final between the Rangers and Kings, Lundqvist confessed he didn't feel like a New Yorker until his third season, when "I felt like I was coming home after the summer."
Now, he understands the importance not only of the sports thread that runs through the city's tapestry, but the dream of a player within the grasp of a championship.
"We're four wins away," he said. "I know this next step will be the toughest one to take, but to me, personally, it would mean everything to win."
Of course, the Kings, who beat the Devils to raise the Cup in 2012, will be trying to deny Lundqvist and the Rangers their chance. The two teams have never met in the Final, and only twice in the playoffs, in 1979 and 1981, when the Blueshirts won both series. Only one player on the current Rangers roster was born before 1979: Martin St. Louis, who won the Cup in Tampa in 2004, came to the Rangers in the March 5 trade for Ryan Callahan.
"As you get older, these are the opportunities you want to have," said St. Louis, who has played with a heavy heart since his mother died May 8. "They lose their captain, I had to go into a place and earn the respect of my teammates. I don't think respect is given; I think respect is earned . . . Everything that's gone on this year for me, and I have this opportunity. I count my blessings."
At Staples Center for media day activities Tuesday, Rangers young and older -- from rookie Jesper Fast to Dominic Moore, who was drafted by the Rangers in 2000 and returned as a free agent, fielded questions from podiums and small tables in a vast room with depictions of famous Stanley Cup moments surrounding them. Most embraced the attention.
"It's starting to sink in a little bit," said center Derek Stepan, who is still on a soft food diet since suffering a broken jaw on a hit from former teammate Brandon Prust in the last round against the Canadiens. "If you're not excited at this point, I don't know what you're thinking. I've been excited since the buzzer went off in Game 6."
As for all the questions about being underdogs to the Kings, who beat the Sharks, Ducks and defending champion Blackhawks, Lundqvist answered smoothly and confidently.
"I think it's 50-50," he said. "It's going to come down to will -- how badly do you want this? -- and execution. When I look at the teams, we're pretty even. We're just going to need everyone to play their best. It's time to show it."