You could always count on Henrik Lundqvist. For 15 seasons, the sublime Swede patrolled the New York Rangers net, a model of consistency who had Broadway good looks and the ability to make fans leap out of their seats with his incredible skill in net.
It's sad that Lundqvist didn't have a chance to extend his career last season – he signed with the Washington Capitals, but could not play due to a heart issue – though the years he had in a Rangers jersey were more than enough to enshrine him as one of the most important players in New York history and a certain Hall of Famer in a few years.
Though he came onto the scene as a humble seventh-round pick, Lundqvist became the type of star that Madison Square Garden was made for. His heroics in the 2014 Stanley Cup final against Los Angeles were the only thing that prevented the Kings from sweeping, as Lundqvist (with a little help from the snow in his crease) stole Game 4 on that magical MSG ice.
Lundqvist never did win that Cup, but gold medals at the Olympics and World Championship cemented his status as one of the best in his class.
And while the statistics speak volumes, the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner was so much more than just a great goaltender. There was an air about Lundqvist, an easy-going charm that made 'King Henrik' so fitting of his nickname. He was the rare NHLer to attract attention outside of the sport, making Vanity Fair magazine's coveted 'Best Dressed' list and serving as an ambassador for a sport known to outsiders for violence and missing teeth.
There was a greater importance to Lundqvist's charisma, however: He was part of a generation that didn't want to make a lot of waves in what they said, carrying on that long tradition in hockey that dates back as long as anyone can remember. And while humility is a fine trait to have, it never helped the sport grow, especially when fans wanted to see the personalities of the players shine through off the ice.
Now, we're entering a time where players who grew up in a more social era aren't afraid to have fun with their personalities, whether it's David Pastrnak, Auston Matthews or Evgeny Kuznetsov, to name a few. Lundqvist's effortless charm was something any fan or reporter could catch on to and the fact he was so nice only added to his aura.
Lundqvist is deciding what his next step will be but it's hard not to see him taking on some type of role with the Rangers eventually. New York is where he raised his family and he has been such a huge part of the Rangers organization already that it almost seems obvious he will take on an executive role similar to what peers such as Martin Brodeur and the Sedin Twins have already accepted in New Jersey and Vancouver, respectively.
On the other hand, from fashion to music, Lundqvist always had an array of interests outside of hockey, so the world really is open to him.
The Rangers have already announced that Lundqvist's No. 30 will be retired by the franchise this upcoming season and when that night comes, it's going to be magical. Players who combine the skill and character that Lundqvist had don't come around very often, particularly at such a high level. Hail to the King, baby – what else can you say?