By: Roberta Naas
Olympic record setter and multi-award-winning star NHL hockey player Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the world. The 35-year-old Swedish professional goaltender for the New York Rangers is the only goalie in National Hockey League history to have recorded 10 30-win seasons out of his first 11 seasons. Nicknamed “King Henrik” by Rangers fans, Lundqvist not only aggressively defends the goal on the ice, but also makes some pretty intense plays out of the rink, as well. In addition to his continuously active involvement in the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation, he is also a key brand ambassador for TAG Heuer’s “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” campaign. During the recent playoffs he took time from his busy schedule to talk with us.
You are one of the best goalies in the NHL. What were the biggest challenges facing you as you rose to success?
I try to appreciate every moment along the way. It’s easy to get distracted by the training, and the treatment, and the travel and forget that at the end of the day I am living every kid’s dream—my childhood dream—of playing hockey and being a professional athlete. I try and remember that and really appreciate that every day, even on the tough days.
How does time play a role in your life both on and off the ice?
Time is obviously very important in my every day, both as an athlete on the ice and as a father and husband at home. Some days it’s hard to fit everything in and managing time is more difficult, but that’s part of it.
What was the longest moment of your life?
When I was a young boy, my twin brother was in the hospital. We were obviously very close, and I was so upset and bothered by his hospital stay that I refused to eat for three days, which thinking back seemed like an eternity at the time.
What was the shortest moment?
Winning the Olympic Gold with team Sweden was an incredible experience. We had several days together afterward to celebrate and spend time together, but it still went by in a flash … looking back it was such an important moment in my life and I wish we had more time together to really appreciate it and soak it all in.
Does time have a different dimension at this stage of your career versus when you first started playing?
I think my time is more valuable to me now than it was when I was younger. I know that my body is older, so I have to spend more time taking care of myself off the ice and preparing properly. Those things are important at any age, but particularly for me at this point in my career.
What is the most important lesson you have learned over all these years playing?
I think patience and acceptance has been a large part of my growth as an athlete. Sometimes you want results so badly that the lack of them can affect you negatively. We aren’t going to win every game, that’s inevitable, and accepting that fact while continuing to strive for perfection is important.
What attracted you to TAG Heuer?
Well obviously my first attraction to TAG Heuer was the beautiful product they make. The watches are detailed, and the precision and performance of the watches is unparalleled. They also have an edge and personality, which I love.
What does the slogan “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” mean to you personally and as it relates to hockey?
I think it’s interesting because it doesn’t necessarily mean winning, but rather ensuring that you give every effort you can to prepare and execute at the highest level. Whether that’s on the ice, at home with my family, or with the work we do at the Foundation. You are always going to face adversity in every area of life, so not cracking means that when those times come you are prepared and you deal with them confidently and with grace.
Were you a watch collector before becoming a TAG Heuer brand ambassador?
I have always loved watches and appreciated the beauty and intricacy behind them, but over the past few years I have become more and more interested in owning and collecting watches. The first watch I ever bought myself had a square face with a black leather strap. It looked great with my suits.
What is the one thing you hope people will think about you?
I hope people associate me with integrity and a passion for the sport. I like to tell kids all the time that even though it is a cliché, there is no substitute in life for hard work. If you work hard, good things usually come your way.
Some say you are nearing the end of your hockey career. Is that the case? And if so, what’s next?
I intend to stay on the ice as long as I can—I still have some great hockey left in me and I love the sport immensely, so the end is not near just yet.