Henrik Lundqvist finally got to visit his new stall in the Capitals locker room. He posted the following photo above. He looks at ease in what will be his new home.
Even if the first part of next season likely will begin in a bubble due to the second wave, at some point the new Cap in a different red, white and blue, will play at Capital One Arena at DC. That’s when he’ll hopefully see and hear unfamiliar support of fans that once were the enemy. In a recent Zoom interview with the media when he was introduced, he indicated that he doesn’t know how they’ll react to him.
If the proud 38-year old affable Swedish goaltender plays well, there’s little doubt he’ll hear the cheers from Washington fans. A strange difference from when he broke Cap hearts in the last three playoff series they played versus the Rangers.
He understands the rivalry which dates back to the good old days of the Patrick Division. If only they renamed the Metropolitan that. Why not? Then make the Atlantic the old Adams Division. I’m all for makeovers if it emphasizes tradition.
How successful will Lundqvist be for the Caps? Well, we know he’ll be replacing Braden Holtby and be part of a tandem with much younger Russian netminder Ilya Samsonov. What will the split be? Maybe 60/40 in favor of the 23-year old Samsonov. But remember, the season could be a little shorter depending on when it begins. That could be ideal.
Although MSG’s Steve Valiquette hinted at some defensive issues with the Caps, Lundqvist will be playing on a better team. Maybe the structure will improve under proven coach Peter Laviolette. A bench boss who’s won a Stanley Cup and been runner-up. He has to be better than Todd Reirden.
He ranks second among active NHL goalies in wins with 459. Only Marc-Andre Fleury has more coming in with 466. He’ll also be a backup in Vegas behind Robin Lehner. They’re fifth and sixth on the all-time wins list.
Whatever the case, seeing Lundqvist wearing his throwback number 35 jersey in a Caps Jersey will be like seeing Joe Thornton donning the Maple Leaf after signing with Toronto for a year at $700,000.
Similar to seeing Martin Brodeur in Blues colors or Mike Modano as a Red Wing. Such is the business of sports. Not everyone stays with one team. That’s the lesson learned here.
One day soon, it’ll become a haunting reality for Rangers fans. I’m already getting used to it.