As a 35-year-old, my earliest memories of being a Ranger fan were obviously watching the ’94 team and seeing them raise the Cup. Little did I know, as an innocent curly-haired 9-year-old, that that would have been the last time I would have seen my team win the Stanley Cup for the subsequent 26 years.
In 2000, the Rangers drafted a little known goalie from Sweden in the NHL Draft. After 20 years, 11 trips to the postseason the first 12 years, 11 playoff series victories, a Finals appearance in 2014, three trips to the Eastern Conference finals in four years, franchise records with 459 victories, 64 shutouts, 61 postseason victories, and the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy, the Rangers decided to buy out one of the best players in their storied franchises history (that was a shitload of accolades and commas). What a damn ride it was.
One of the saddest things in my spawts life was not seeing Hank raise the Cup. Through no fault of his own, the Rangers simply couldn’t get it done for King Henrik. He will go down on the list that nobody wants to be on.
GOATS Without a Ring
Im not going to be a bitter fuck and not root for Hank to get his Cup elsewhere. Nobody in the NHL is more deserving. I hope he signs with a stacked squad and leads them to win the Cup. It will be bittersweet though.
Just like his buyout is bittersweet. Waving Goodbye to the surefire Hall of Famer absolutely stinks. The only hockey jersey Mr. Glass-Half-Full ever owned was a #30 Blueshirt. Not only was Hank everything you could have asked for as the face of the Franchise on the ice, he might have been even better of a man off of it. With those looks and a calm/cool personality, Hank dripped class.
From the moment Hank took hold of the starting goalie spot in 2005, you could pencil in 60+ starts, 30+ wins and we just assumed we would be in playoff contention every year. This was despite having a team that was able to consistently score on the other end for him. For 15 years, Hank consistently had to stand on his head and steal games for the Rangers. He did so without a peep of being a malcontent or wanting out. Even when “The Letter” was written back in 2018, when the franchise waved the white-flag that signified a rebuild, Hank said he wanted to see it through.
Now, with Shesterkin and Georgiev ready to take the reigns at MUCH cheaper price, the obvious buyout needed to happen. Hank’s play has slipped a bit recently, as Father Time waits for no man. It was a move that had to happen, but it doesn’t suck any less. I hate to make this kind of negative comparison, but it’s like losing a loved one/animal that you know is sick for a long time. You know the end is coming, but when it happens, it still fucking sucks.
In the end, Hank will have his name in the rafters at MSG the minute he decides to hang up the skates. He will be remembered as the best goalie of this generation, Rangers or otherwise. Eastern Conference opponents will rejoice, but I would be shocked if any competent hockey fan would show any ill-will towards a SAINT like Hank (except for the mouth-breathers out there, which there are many).
You will be missed on Broadway Henrik. Us Ranger fans will never forget what you did for this organization and bringing it back from the dead for the last two decades. Hank loved New York as much as New York loved him, and that was the icing on that cake to a truly special relationship. I wish you nothing but the best and I will be rooting for you to win a Cup somewhere else in 2021 (preferably on a team that is not in the Metro).
Mr. Glass-Half-Full’s Take:
As I mentioned before, this is a move that absolutely needed to happen. The future, Shesty, showed last year that he is ready for Prime Time. Georgiev coming on and showing he could be a stud #2 goalie made Henrik’s salary expendable. At this point in time, he is clearly the 3rd best goalie in the rotation, and it would be unfair to both goalies and Coach Quinn to have Hank sitting there every night looking over everyone’s shoulder.
The Rangers were tight against the cap and needed the $3 million of cap room to sign the likes of Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, Brendan Lemieux, Jesper Fast, and Georgiev. Not all will stay, but it would have been damn near impossible to keep most without moving on from Hank.
So, in the end, it’s a business. Rarely does it end gracefully for the greats, and Hank’s tenure as a Blueshirt ended by getting swept in this bullshit playoff series to the Hurricanes. It’s not the way we wanted to send you out Hank, but the Hockey God’s aren’t always kind. You will forever be revered and will never have to buy a drink in Manhattan again.
Long live King Henrik aka Mr. Game 7.
With TONS of Love and Respect,