Henrik Lundqvist could be heading back home to Sweden to play for Frolunda HC in the Swedish Elitserien during the NHL lockout.
Lundqvist spent the previous NHL lockout with Frolunda, playing his final season there before jumping to the New York Rangers once the NHL was open for business again. During his time with Frolunda, he won multiple awards, including three consecutive Honken Trophies, which is pretty much the Elitserien equivalent of the Vezina Trophy. To this day, Lundqvist holds the record for most Honken Trophies won. He also got the equivalent of both the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award in 2005.
Plus, there’s a family connection in Frolunda: Lundqvist’s twin brother Joel is the team’s current captain.
While Lundqvist’s agent said there was nothing to report as far as his client doing anything with Frolunda, the team has certainly made an effort to show it is ready to take on their decorated goaltender of the past for another tour of duty.
Frolunda collected the funds necessary to pay for Lundqvist’s insurance, which amounts to the equivalent of about $30,000 a month to guarantee the rest of his Rangers contract. Since the NHL has suspended player insurance policies during the lockout, individual teams have to find the ability to pay for these players’ insurance through whatever means necessary. Many European teams cobble together the funds by pooling various sponsors, a crowd-sourcing model familiar to fans of PBS (Viewers Like You).
Frolunda has already signed one NHL player, Matt Duchene, and is just one of two Elitserien teams to take on an NHL player at all during this lockout. At first, Elitserien flatly refused to welcome NHL players no matter what, but the Swedish government intervened and declared that practice illegal under their labor laws.
Though that means the option is there for other players, Elitserien teams have still been hesitant to throw open the doors, possibly because of financial reasons. Other Swedish players have looked to play elsewhere in the meantime, though since Lundqvist has expressed interest and collected some hardware with Frolunda, he could very well be welcomed back–especially now that the kronor are in place to possibly bring him in again.