Henrik Lundqvist: 'I Miss the Game'

By Emma Harger
Henrik Lundqvist just wants to wear this uniform again. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist finds himself thinking about the NHL lockout pretty much every day, especially recently when he went by the Madison Square Garden and saw it in its renovated splendor.

“I was thinking about how I missed being there, how frustrating it’s been not to be able to play and be with my teammates and in front of our fans,” he told Larry Brooks of the New York Post. “Everything I was thinking came back to the lockout. That’s how it is every day with almost everything. Everything comes back to the lockout. It just makes me upset. The more I think about it, the more upset I am.”

At first, Lundqvist liked being able to show his baby daughter Charlise to his family in Sweden. But now that glow has dimmed and Lundqvist and his wife just want to be back in New York City with everything back to normal.

On a recent return to the States to play in the Operation Hat Trick charity game for Hurricane Sandy relief, Lundqvist enjoyed himself for the first time in a long time.

“[It] was the best I have felt in a long time. I had no idea what to expect, but it felt so good to be out there playing a game,” he said. “It’s so inspiring to see how everyone works so hard — and I don’t mean the hockey players — to help other people in need. It was a great night. I loved every minute of it.”

But Lundqvist thinks about the ongoing labor unrest pretty much every day, like many fans do.

“I miss it so much. I miss the game. I miss the excitement. I miss the challenge of pushing myself every day. I feed off competing. I feed off the energy,” he said. “I’ve tried to be positive. I have to admit that I never thought we would be out this long. I’ve never gone through anything like this before. The first couple of weeks were weird but then when I realized we might be out for a long time, I started to freak out a little bit. It’s hard to explain.”

Don’t worry, Lundqvist–I think you’ll find a lot of fans feeling the same way and finding their feelings difficult to explain, too, especially fans who were not around for either of the two previous lockouts, though longtime fans surely have cause for hard-to-explain emotions as well.

He said he took it for granted that he would always be playing. As a player who was still in Sweden during the 2004-05 lockout, Lundqvist hasn’t ever experienced a lockout from the inside before.

Plus, he understands and sympathizes with the fans.

“I know the fans are really upset, and they have a right to be. They deserve better. I really mean that. They are so loyal. They spend so much money for tickets and merchandise and to be there to support the team. The fans deserve better. The game of hockey deserves better. I can’t even express how much I hope we’re back playing very, very soon.”

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