Henrik Lundqvist, a tad more settled and perhaps a little more philosophical, is back in Gotham and loving it.
“It feels good to be back---in New York and here,” he told Newsday while relaxing at his locker at the team’s training complex in Westchester this morning after an informal practice with 16 other players.
After an hour on the ice, featuring mostly 3-on-2s and 3-on-3s with no serious checking, Sean Avery and Lundqvist were the last players out there. No. 16 went one-on-one for a bit, then shot pucks from the slot as Lundqvist practiced his footwork and positioning, moving from facing a corner to the middle of crease to make saves. Lundqvist was testing new blue Bauer pads and sticks, and gave the thumbs-up to equipment manager Acacio Marques as we were talking.
It’s the brink of September and back to work.
Instead of sunning on the beaches in Sweden, as Lundqvist, 29, has done in previous years, this summer had a different tempo, he said. “I stayed here (in Manhattan) for a couple months, and you set your own pace, going out to restaurants or doing what you want,” said Lundqvist. “Then in Sweden, there was always somewhere you had to be, someone you had to see.”
No wonder. Lundqvist married his longtime girlfriend, Therese Andersson, in early August in the Caribbean. “It (the wedding) was really nice, pretty small, we had 32 people; my relatives and closest friends,” he said. “You kind of realize you’re getting older…and you start thinking you have a really good life.”
Who can blame Lundqvist, an Olympic gold-medalist for Sweden and one of the top goaltenders in the NHL, for being a bit more conscious of the passing years?
After all, Lundqvist, who joined the Rangers as a rookie in the 2005-06 season, is the lone player remaining from that squad. He has become the determined, competitive cornerstone, the team MVP for the last few years, and is preparing to watch a core of younger players, now including veteran Brad Richards, develop into what he hopes is a perennial Stanley Cup contender.
The future beckons, but Lundqvist strode down memory lane in Gothenburg during the summer, skating with his former club, the Frolunda Indians, whom the Rangers will face in an exhibition game a month from now, on Sept. 30.
“I was working out there with some of the boys when I was over there. They’re looking forward to it, and so am I,” he said. “I started there when I was 16 and played seven years,” including juniors.
“So it’s like a second home?” I asked. “Yeah. It will be a little emotional to play there.”
Among the others who skated today: Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, who all returned to the city in the past few days; Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky, who have been here often this summer; Wojtek Wolski, Michael Del Zotto, Erik Christensen, Mike Rupp and Steve Eminger. Whale C John Mitchell, D Stu Bickel, and D Lee Baldwin, who split the season between the AHL and ECHL and will play in Traverse City, also were in the drills…
Lundqvist was pretty sharp. Christensen scored a couple goals on a line with Wolski and Boyle...Girardi snuck behind an opponent for a tip in.
Anisimov’s English has improved again, and said he has added some muscle by eating five small meals a day and working out. He’s moving from White Plains to the West Side of Manhattan. “New deal, why not?” he said with a smile….Boyle, who also has a new contract, was headed back to Boston for the weekend. "Things are good, I'm excited," he said....McDonagh’s drive here from Minnesota was almost interrupted by Hurricane Irene. He tried to get a room at hotels in Pennsylvania on Sunday, “but they were all booked by people who had been coming west.” Instead, he called a Manhattan hotel and had no problem, so he continued on...