The trade deadline is a good reminder that while the world’s best athletes play on the biggest stages and are well compensated, they are humans with relationships and real emotions, too.
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, in a post-game press conference Sunday, provided an example of the raw emotion that accompanies seeing a longtime friend and teammate traded.
The Rangers dealt Mats Zuccarello to Dallas on Saturday, ending a run in New York for a fan-favorite and beloved teammate. Zuccarello and Lundqvist spent nine years together.
When asked if he could say a word about what Zuccarello meant to him and the team, Lundqvist immediately got choked up and could only muster, “It’s tough. Good friend,” before he apologized and said he couldn’t continue the interview.
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The affable Rangers goalie posted on social media on Saturday night a photo of him and Zuccarello embracing as they advanced to the Stanley Cup in 2014. The caption read, in part, “Will miss you a ton!” with a sad-face emoji.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks detailed the special bond between Lundqvist and Zuccarello in a story prior to the trade, saying the unrestricted free agent had been Lundqvist’s closest friend in the goalie’s 14 years with the Rangers and it extended off the ice to his wife and two young children.
“The times we’ve spent together, the talks we’ve had, I’ll miss that and I’ll miss him,” Lundqvist told Brooks. “I’ve had friends leave before. It’s hard. But when you play for one team for 14 years, it’s going to happen.”
The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. ET Monday.