Let’s kick it back two months, shall we? Rangers playing Carolina, some traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist and suddenly the face of the franchise is laying on the ice with an injury. It stops a fan dead in their tracks. Suddenly, we all channel our inner Dr. Briere and learn the workings of whatever is ailing Lundqvist. Henrik came back for one game, but ultimately was sidelined for the better part of two months.
Since nobody is a guarantee for postseason hockey until late March – and that’s only if you’re very lucky – the often mentally unstable fan base was on their collective ledges sobbing for what could have been of the 2014-15 season. Enter Cam Talbot, a once-career AHL goalie whose first season as a backup with the Rangers last year proved him worthy of a one year extension, signed through 2016. Cameron, I hope you troll the interwebs for your name, cause this is an open letter to you, kind sir.
When Hank went down on that fateful day in January, we were terrified. We figured you could play a couple of games til he got back up, and when he played the next game, we all breathed a sigh of relief. But then the diagnosis came. Lundqvist wouldn’t be back for an undisclosed amount of time. We freaked. For this, we apologize.
All we needed from you was an average effort; go .500 til Hank comes back, sneak into the playoffs and let him do what he does best from there. Instead, you gave it your all, which is pretty damn good. There’s nothing better than a great story in sports, it’s what makes it so legendary yet attainable. People hear a story about a guy who played hockey in Alabama, who spent five years playing good hockey in Connecticut with no real possibility of coming up to a city that has one of the best goalies and a veteran backup. You’re relatable. You’re easygoing. You get kissed by Chris Kreider on the regular. For god’s sake, you have the Ghostbusters on your mask. Let’s be friends.
When you come to a city where every single stride you take on the ice is scrutinized, it’s easy to wither in the spotlight. When you come to fill in for the biggest star on the team, the pressure can easily become unbearable for even the most composed person. So for you to come in, as a backup, and absolutely dominate the whole damn league puts you at the Henrik-esque stud level we’ve all gotten spoiled with.
The team rallied around you and came together to be the dominant force in not only the East, but the entire league. And the most beautiful part is that you graciously handed the crown back to Hank on Saturday when he was cleared and well enough to play. No diva like behavior, no sass, and absolutely zero arrogance. You made other teams envious for your skill and showcased your ability, which is clearly one of a starter. The great fans of the Rangers couldn’t thank you enough for being as amazing as you are.