As a fan, we value loyalty in the highest regard. Sure money and fame are great things to have. However, we appreciate a player when they express their feelings in staying with one organization. We cannot imagine them in another jersey.
However, it’s been done before.
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Former Boston Bruins great Ray Bourque comes to mind. The former captain played close to 20 seasons with the Bruins. Realizing his window of opportunity of winning a Stanley Cup was closing, he requested to be traded. He found himself with the Colorado Avalanche. In the 1999-2000 season, his dream was fulfilled. No one could forget the elation and relief when Bourque raised the cup over his head, like a conquering hero.
I am sure both Avalanche and Bruins fans had tears of joy streaming down their faces, watching that image of the bearded warrior finally holding the one thing that had eluded him his entire playing career.
To this day, I don’t recall a bad word or insult flown in Bourque’s face from Bruins fans, at the mention of his name. They understood why he did what he did. His legacy could never be tarnished in their eyes. He was beloved as one of the Bruins own. Bourque gave of himself, unselfishly, by putting the team above himself over his career in Boston. It was time to give him one more chance.
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Much could be compared to Henrik Lundqvist. Amid this offseason’s storylines, a recent article appeared on Score.com, written by Thomas Drance (@thomasdrance). In it, he writes about Lundqvist’s reaction to the New York Ranger’s loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings and his commitment to the New York Rangers. Citing a Swedish media website, Lundqvist had this to say:
"“As soon as we lost the (Final) it felt that I wanted to go home…The loss was tough, a huge disappointment, but at the same time I’m…very happy with the way we performed as a team.”"
He further tells of his desire to remain a New York Ranger:
"“I have always been saying that my biggest dream is to win, but also to win in New York. It’s tough to look in to the future. But heck, I want to be a New Yorker…”"
Last season, he signed a lucrative contract extension worth $59.5 million over the next seven years, starting with this upcoming season in October. He has been the backstop for the Blueshirts the past nine. His contract will expire at the end of the 2020-2021 season and will be 40 years of age, by that time.
General Manager Glen Sather and the Rangers organization are committing to the Swede, long term. Hopefully, the right moves are made so that Lundqvist rides off into the sunset, knowing that he brought the city of New York something they have been longing for since the Messiah (aka Mark Messier) made good on his promise: a Stanley Cup.
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Once he has done that, all the whispers and rumors of Lundqvist leaving New York to win a championship should be put to rest. However, if the Rangers step backwards or remain stagnant with their play, the relationship between Lundqvist and the team may not end a happy note. He may waive his No Movement Clause and request for a trade to a contender. If that happens, could you blame the man?
"“I have a very hard time seeing myself doing that…”-Henrik Lundqvist"
So do we, Henrik, so do we.