As a 23-year-old, heading into his first NHL season back in 2011, Carl Hagelin found himself in the big city, getting ready to play for the New York Rangers. One of his mentors at the time was fellow countryman Henrik Lundqvist. The pair played together for four seasons before Hagelin was traded to the Anaheim Ducks prior to the 2015-16 season.
The last time the Swedish duo played together was during the 2016 IIHF World Championships. Now Carl Hagelin is reunited with Henrik Lundqvist – but this time in Washington, D.C., where Hagelin has been since the 2018-19 trade deadline.
After being bought-out by the New York Rangers on September 30, Lundqvist took some time to consider what he wanted to do next, and began looking into his options. After receiving interest from the Capitals, Lundqvist touched base with Hagelin for his thoughts on playing hockey in the Nation’s Capital.
“We had had some contact before and he asked some questions about how the atmosphere is here. He has had many good games in his career against Washington and would be a good ‘fit’. However, I did not know that he would come here until it was announced,” said Hagelin in an interview with hockeysverige.se.
Now the tables have been turned as Hagelin will now help Lundqvist get acclimated in Washington.
“I will be involved and help him as much as possible from the beginning with the questions he will have. When I heard that [Lundqvist was coming], I naturally thought it was incredibly fun. It is incredibly fun and a good boost’ for our team. He will fit in well and have the opportunity to play in many games. The goal is to win and that is probably why he came to us.”
For Hagelin, a rookie in the NHL at the time, Lundqvist was a tremendous help for him when he first arrived in New York back in 2011.
“For me, if I am going to talk about my personal experience, coming in as a young guy, he meant an incredible deal. He was a person who everyone around the league and in the locker room had an incredible amount of respect for. Thus, it was easy for me to follow him. He was always nice to me, which made ‘the transition’ from the AHL to the NHL much easier for me when I had him on my side.”
Hagelin is looking forward to playing with Lundqvist again. He feels the arrival of “The King” has already inspired his play.
“It will be incredibly fun. He was here for a few days this week. Then I worked a little harder on the ice and had two goals. It felt a little more real then. Since I was traded from the Rangers, the World Championships is the only time I have played with him. It’s always a special feeling to be able to do that because he’s the goalie I played with in the NHL during my first four seasons. He has been a part of my success on the ice so it feels very good to have him in goal.”
The fact that Henrik Lundqvist was not only a good hockey player but also a good friend to Hagelin has made it even more special.
“It helps incredibly. My wife, who was then my girlfriend, and I had no children when we lived in New York but we spent a lot of time with their family. Now it will surely be even more thanks to both them and us having children. At the same time, it is always nice to have Swedes on the team and since I already know him, it will be even easier. I will help him as much as possible from the beginning with the questions he will have.”
Hagelin also believes that the goalkeeper star will be a positive influence on the team and that he’d be more comfortable with an older group of players.
“His competitive instinct, the fact that he always works to get better at practice and push (Ilya) Samsonov, which I think they will both benefit from. We believe that it is a really good ‘pick-up. He is a person who wants to win and will do whatever it takes to do so. That is also what a team needs. I also think that ‘Henke’ will like the fact that this team that is not as young as the current group of Rangers. There are more players over 30 here than under so he can feel a little more comfortable that way.”
Hagelin knows expectations for next season are pretty simple. Win a Stanley Cup.
“The expectations and hope are always to win the Stanley Cup. Then, like everyone else on the team, I have to play well to win the Stanley Cup. That’s how I go in every season, that I have to be a ‘difference maker” in my own way and then I have to be consistent all season. I have learned that when it is hot you have to rise and that has always been my goal. In terms of points or playing time, I do not usually set any special goals. I carry on and try to get a little better every day throughout the season and then it usually gets good in the end. Winning the Stanley Cup is the carrot that allows me to push myself to get better all the time.”
The original interview from hockeysverige.se can be found here.
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By Diane Doyle