He wore a goalie mask on the ice, but outside the rink you were just as likely to find Henrik Lundqvist on the pages of GQ as Sports Illustrated. Born in Sweden, he moved to New York in 2005 and spent his entire 15-year NHL career as a goaltender for the New York Rangers, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2012. Now retired, the well-dressed Lundqvist is still a proud New Yorker and involved in numerous projects, including being a part owner of the restaurant Tiny’s & The Bar Upstairs in Tribeca, launching a new fragrance ‘Next Chapter’ and hosting the ‘Club 30’ podcast. Over Moscow Mules at Tiny’s, made with his favorite Ole Smoky Moonshine, I spoke with Lundqvist about his first drink, his love of New York and his talk with Paul McCartney about the difference between hockey and music fans.
What was your first drink?
Probably my first mixed drink was called P2. I think it was sweet vodka with Sprite.
Growing up in Sweden did your parents have wine at the dinner?
My parents had a glass of wine on Fridays and Saturdays. Not Monday through Thursday. They were always driving my brother and I to hockey practice or my sister to tennis practice.
As an athlete did you have to behave a little better than your friends on the weekends?
I think you reach a point, especially when you get to an age where there’s partying and drinking as a teenager, that you have to make a lot of decisions. What are you trying to accomplish? Having fun or are you trying to improve as a player A lot of times you play games or weekends. So deciding when and when not to have a drink is a decision that was easy to make throughout my career even as a young adult.
You’re twin brother was also a hockey player. Were both of you similarly focussed?
We were pretty similar in so many things. The way we acted and our decision making. I was a little bit more of a daredevil.
After you graduated from P2 did you enjoy cocktails or wines?
Wine for sure. At first I was more about whites. But now — the other night we had a really nice steak dinner and a really nice class of Cabernet. So I think as I get older I appreciate red wine more.
Recently when I’m out and about my go-to is a Moscow Mule. Summer is a lot of Aperol Spritz. I feel like that’s the summer drink. And it looks so refreshing.
What is it about Moscow Mule that you like?
It’s the ginger that makes it. If they make it right it’s not too sweet.
We’re here at Tiny’s & The Bar Upstairs where you’re a part-owner. What made you want to go into the restaurant world?
I think the longer you spend time in New York you want more connections to the city than just playing the game. That’s friends, it’s things to do, but also different types of projects. So it was just one of those things where it felt a fun thing to do.
‘Tiny’s’ is an unusual name from a hockey player.
Well, I mean, when you look at it is tiny. The building is very old. And its measurements are smaller than most townhouses in the city. When we renovated it we took everything apart then kind of put it back up again to keep it old. It needed a good renovation to to kickstart it but it still feels old and a little beat up which is kind of the goal.
Did you bring any Swedish touches to the menu?
We have the meatballs. I wouldn’t say they’re Swedish meatballs but at least that’s one of the things I want on the menu.
How would you compare the New York and Sweden food scenes?
I go back every summer to Sweden and they’re very good at making healthy food even at restaurants. But I have to say coming back here every fall I love the steaks. New York is just a place where you can get everything at a very high level.
Is there something you had when you moved to New York for the first time that you hadn’t tried in Sweden?
While growing up I never ate sushi. Never. I feel like the the quality and variety of sushi restaurants here is extremely good.
Have you ever shared a drink with one of your idols?
I was at a Bruce Springsteen concert and I was next to Paul McCartney. That was definitely a cool moment. We talked about the differences in being on stage and being on the ice.
And the difference is?
Being on a stage, for the most part, you have everybody in the building rooting for you. They want a great show. But in sports a lot of times you have people in there that want everything to go bad for you. The opposing teams fans. They boo you, they try to get in your head. Especially if you play on the road you might have 19,000 out of 20,000 people where all they want is for you to mess up. So that’s a big difference.
As a musician you’re out there, you feel more support. Obviously when you play a home game you feel that but sports is very black and white. You win or lose. You do good or you do bad. Music is more a feeling about what is great, what is bad. It’s very personal.
Can a good crowd lift your performance when you’re playing?
Yeah, absolutely. Especially going into playoffs where tensions are higher and the atmosphere is a little bit louder in the buildings. And that’s why home is an advantage. You have the fans bringing you that little extra energy. When you’re really in the zone and you’re focused and you’re exactly where you want to be mentally the crowd has less of an impact. It’s when you’re not 100%. In that moment you can let it get to you a little bit more.
You’ve also performed as a guitarist. How long have you been playing?
I started as a kid and then stopped but it was always there. We had a little family band going, my sister played the drums and my brother played the bass. I played the guitar so we had a lot of fun growing up. But then it was just sitting there and I never really improved. When I moved here I started picking it up a again and started jamming with some friends for charity events.
What’s your favorite guitar?
I have three that I really like. They were all from my ‘retirement night’ when they retired my jersey. My buddies bought me a custom Gibson Les Paul — it’s beautiful. And then John McEnroe came out with a Swedish guitar from Hagstrom and the guy that always painted my hokcey masks painted the guitar. It’s a Rangers kind of look like all my masks. And the third one was a gift from John Mayer, one of my favorite guitarists. It’s like the one he always uses and it’s signed.
You’ve even performed with John McEnroe.
A couple of times. We’ve done a full band. We’ve done a couple of smaller acoustic sets. He’s great to to hang with and jam with.
Your band has help raised money for your own Henrik Lundqvist Foundation.
When I moved here in 2005 as a New York Ranger you right away get involved the Garden of Dreams Foundation which is run by Madison Square Garden. Then I felt like I wanted to start my own foundation as well. We focus on education and health for children and in the city and back in Sweden. We support Children’s Hospital here in New York and we work with the Ronald McDonald House in Sweden. We also have our own ‘Young Ambassador’ program where we inspire kids to do charity work in their community and apply for scholarships.
You also just launched a fragrance line?
I’ve been working with a Swedish brand called Morgan Madison for the past 18 months to release these two fragrances called ‘Next Chapter.’ The bottle itself is made by a Swedish company Orrefors and the box it comes in is it looks like a coffee table book. Kind of spinning off the ‘Next Chapter’ name. We call them ‘Volume One’ and ‘Volume Two.’ The first is a little lighter and the second is a lot heavier.
Do you find it unusual for a hockey player to enter the perfume world?
For four years I’ve been thinking about it. It’s something that’s important to me, how I dress and how I smell. It’s always been a last touch before I go out the door. Put my suit on and then spray a nice fragrance to get that final touch.
After years sharing a locker room can you name any of your former Rangers teammates that could use cologne more than others?
(Laughs) I don’t want them calling me. Let’s leave that one alone.