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Where Will Hank Rank?

Last night, Henrik Lundqvist stole the show, and won game #150 in his young career. Lundqvist, just 27 years old, got to 150 wins in a little over four seasons. At this rate (averaging 35 wins a year), assuming he plays until he is 38 (another 11 years), The King will finish his career with over 500 victories. To put this in perspective, he will get win #302, and set a Ranger record, before he turns 33. His peripherals are outstanding, and he already has 21 shutouts. Of course, there are many factors that come into play here, such as injuries and the increasing workload in the form of shots against, but in his first four years, he has been nothing short of phenomenal.

When it comes to all-time Ranger greats in net, two prominent names come to mind: Mike Richter and Eddie Giacomin. Both are numbers 1 and 2 in pretty much every Ranger goalie stat, and in the fans hearts. There will never be a clear cut line between Richter and Eddie, as fans will never seem to agree who was “better”. Both were flat out great in net, and while Giacomin may be the more decorated of the two, Richter is the one with the Cup and the all-time wins record.

This brings us back to Hank. What if he never wins a Vezina? There needs to be something said for consistency, and usually the most consistent players don’t win that many awards (see: Rivera, Mariano). Vezina’s go to the top goalie in the league for that year, and while the finalists, or even the top five, are consistent, the winner is generally the goalie who was just abnormally great that year (see: Theodore, Jose). Can one trophy be used to measure his success? What if he never wins a Cup? Is that his fault? Hockey, after all, is a team game, and we have seen that the supporting cast has been less than Cup-worthy in the past years.

Then there are the stats. Hockey isn’t mature enough in the metrics department to help account for the many changes in the game since Eddie’s, and to a lesser extent, Richter’s era (like the way ERA+ helps account for this in baseball). Sure, goalie equipment is bigger and lighter, but the skaters are bigger, stronger, and faster. Composite sticks have changed the way pucks are shot. But, you can’t ignore gaudy numbers, such as 150 wins and 21 shutouts before his 28th birthday, no matter what era they come from. How many teams would kill to have that kind of consistency in net?

There’s no denying the fact that if it were any other goalie in net the past four years, we may still be talking about a playoff drought in New York. So in that regard, Hank is already one of, if not the, most influential Rangers of the “new NHL”, and rightfully earned him a spot as one of the top-100 Rangers of all time. Are numbers alone enough to vault him past Eddie and Richter? Or does that Cup mean that much? This debate has only just begun, and it will be become a wild debate as Hank starts approaching these records.

4 Responses to “Where Will Hank Rank?”

  1. NYRJurgen88 says:

    great article. And something i’ve been thinking for a long while. I think (bias aside) when you take into account his age, his international CV, his record so far etc, he’s the best in the game. We (touch wood) have another decade of Hank whereas Brodeur etc have maybe 2-3 years left?

    It really annoys me when i see some rangers ‘fans’ question Hank at times. He’s been nothing but gold for us. I’d like to know fatso’s record after 4 years. and hell…. i bet for sure Richter didnt have the accomplishments Hank has thus far. Lets really appreciate what we have.

    We’re lucky to have 2 of the very best (in their prime) players in the league in Hank and Gabby. When was the last time we could say that? 94????

  2. Mike B says:

    Interesting, however, you need to remember something, in the post lockout era, wins are going to be incredibly inflated. Why? Simply because shootout wins are now included. I believe he would have been short of 30 wins in two of his first four seasons if the old sister kisser were still in effect. Look, a win is a win when it comes to the standings, but when comparing current goaltenders to greats of the past, this is going to have to be considered. Lundqvist is a great goali, but will he be considered one of the all time greats, not if he doesn’t win a cup or a vezina, you need to have a couple of “hall of fame” years in my book if you want that status.

  3. Dave says:

    I was moreso referring to where he will rank in terms of Ranger greats, not all time greats.

    • jurgenno88 says:

      Dave, i appreciate thats what you were referring to but if he carries on with his averages for a decade and assume we get a team that can take him to a cup final within a decade (big ask i know) then you’re talking those 500+ wins and various awards and i think he starts getting into the all time conversation too – although i do appreciate this is early talk!

      Im pretty confident this guy will win a vezina in his career too. I think alot of the awards have an element of a popularity contest involed and he’s a very popular guy and well thought of around the league (so it seems). that can only help.