Henrik Lunqvist, AKA King Henrik, formerly of the New York Rangers, will be welcomed with open arms by his new teammates when he arrives in Washington. Particularly by the Swedes.
Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin spoke about the acquisition of the Capitals’ latest Swede in interviews with Swedish media outlets Sportsbladet, Aftonbladet and SportExpressen on Friday.
“It’s incredibly fun that he comes here. Of course we get extra motivation with “Henke” on the team”, said Backstrom.
There are very few goalkeepers who have caused the Washington Capitals more pain than Henrik Lundqvist. And because of that, they are extremely pleased that he is now coming to the American capital.
“Yes, we have played against him a lot and we know exactly how good he is. It’s about a world [class] goaltender, who plays with a hell of a passion and is incredibly professional.”
Backstrom is clearly happy to now be a teammate with his old national team teammate.
“Yes, I think it’s incredibly fun that “Henke” comes here. He makes everyone better. I think it will be perfect for both us and him. He wants to win and so do we.”
The Caps’ first center from Gävle believes that Lundqvist’s presence will provide extra motivation.
“He is one who’s played the longest in the league without winning (a Stanley Cup), so you really cheer for him to win a title. It definitely gives us an extra ‘boost’.”
Bäckström was asked by SportExpressen if he thought Lundqvist would fight for the number one job.
“It will be an intense season with frequent games (compressed schedule), often games two nights in a row. Henke and Ilya Samsonov will be a good pair of goalkeepers. The best goalkeeper must guard the goal every night. Henke will have to play a lot, I think. This will be great,” said Bäckström.
Bäckström was asked if he had spoke with Lundqvist in recent weeks.
“Yes, we talked a little and I’m glad he chose Washington.”
Carl Hagelin, who played with “King Henrik” in New York for four years and is now reunited with him in Washington, is also cheering.
“I am happy for the team’s sake, for his sake and for my own sake. It was fantastic to play with “Henke”. What I especially remember, and look forward to now, is his attitude towards practice. He makes everyone, but especially the forwards, better by always giving one hundred percent in every workout. He will also help our young goalkeeper, Ilya Samsonov, a lot too.”
Lundqvist himself met with the media on Friday. He said he has already talked to captain Alex Ovechkin and fellow Swedes Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin. “[They’re a] tight group…great group of guys”.
Lundqvist said he did his homework on different scenarios and options and that the Capitals “checked every box”. He mentioned that a “chance to win” was the most important thing. Lundqvist loves “the way they [Capitals] operate.”
The 38-year-old Swede is “excited and grateful” to join the team and has been skating recently to get ready for the “new challenge”.
— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) October 9, 2020
Lundqvist told Aftonbladet on Friday that he and his family considered other teams.
“We looked at other clubs as well, and those were good alternatives, but the Capitals felt like the right decision,” said Lundqvist.
“I have played a lot against them and know that they are a very good team. In addition, I have only heard good things about the club and had rewarding conversations with several on the team, including the general manager, the coach and Bäckström.”
“Above all, They want, and can, win the Stanley Cup.“
“Yes, in this part of my career it is of course the most important factor for me. People think a bit about practical things as well, but above all else I want to be involved and fight for the Stanley Cup. The Capitals have already won once and know what it takes to do it again. The capacity is there, it is very inspiring.”
Henrik has not yet made any decisions about if and when the family will move to Washington.
“We take it as it comes. I’m going there, but we’ll see how the rest of the family does. Right now the kids are going to school in New York, so, well, like I said, we’ll take it as it comes.
Henrik himself is currently in Stockholm, among other things for a charity gala on Sunday, but he will soon return to the US.
By Diane Doyle