Seven More Years

cat tacopinaFinally, it’s certain; the King will stay on his throne.

Go ahead, take a collective sigh. The New York Rangers announced on Wednesday they have extended Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s contract until the 2020-21 season, resigning the goaltender for $59.5 million.

Answering to the speculation he faced over the summer, Lundqvist admitted during a Wednesday press conference that “leaving New York was never an option.”

“I want to be a Ranger for life,” Lundqvist said. “To picture myself anywhere else was just wrong and was never an option. I know there was some speculation over the summer, but – from the heart – it was never an option to leave this club.”

And then my heart stopped and I almost had an emotional moment in front of my computer.

In all seriousness, Blueshirts fans should be ecstatic and over the moon with this news. This was mentioned in the past, but the idea of trading Lundqvist so that a hot Cam Talbot could take on the No. 1 Goaltending duties for the New York Rangers were impulsive and unfair. To pseudo-quote an infamous film franchise, Lundqvist is the hero New York needs, and the one it deserves.

This isn’t to say Cam Talbot is undeserving of the praise he has been given. Aside from that blip on Monday against the Winnipeg Jets, Talbot has been playing very well and has given Lundqvist competition and, at the same time, a little relief.

But it is way too early to say he’s capable of being a No. 1 goaltender, especially for a team that is consistently considered a threat.

However, this column is about why Lundqvist is so deserving of this contract extension.

I understand the various concerns over Lundqvist this season, but only because it is indicative of Ranger fans. They are, without a doubt, among the most loyal fans in all of sports. The Rangers could be bottom of the table right now and regardless of how frustrated they may be with the team, they will still show up at Madison Square Garden in support of the team.

With that being said, Ranger fans are among the most critical, and no one is spared from the wrath of New York criticism.

Lundqvist’s start to the season is among, if not, his worst. He has an 8-11-0 record, with a .917 save percentage a 2.51 GAA. These certainly aren’t the numbers you would expect of someone who has won a Vezina and a gold medal at the Olympic games. And of course these numbers are troubling, but really, the worry and doubt hasn’t been fair.

Just like how Talbot has been having a hot streak, Lundqvist is going through a cold spell. It’s rare of his caliber, but it happens. Everything we know and are told about Lundqvist is that there is no one harder on him than himself and that there is no one more desiring of victory than “The King.” I’m sure that every criticism we’ve given him, he had given himself long before.

Any New Yorker would be lying to themself though if they said they didn’t still believe in Lundqvist’s capability and talent. It’s apparent, and it’s apparent to those in the front office. The extension should do Lundqvist a world of good for his confidence. It’s proof and evidence of the fact that they know he is talented and he is the goaltender who is most able to bring the Rangers to a Stanley Cup. Lundqvist is the best goaltender in the world, and there’s eight-seasons worth of proof and an Olympics to back it up.

And let’s face it- — Lundqvist wouldn’t get this kind of flack if the players who are supposed to score would score more. Lundqvist has had a slow start to this season, but that shouldn’t erase everything he has done for this club. He is the reason we make it to the postseason every year, and he deserves to take his place on the throne of New York until he has finished his career.