By Steve Zipay
An NHL elder statesman at 34? Not when 44-year-old Jaromir Jagr, and Zdeno Chara and Shane Doan, both 39, are hanging around.
Nonetheless, Henrik Lundqvist, an 11-year veteran, has seen the dramatic changes sweeping through today’s league.
No, he doesn’t recall when Fox Sports installed sensors in pucks, giving them a blue glow on TV, an experiment which began at the All-Star Game in 1996 and ended with the Stanley Cup Final in 1998.
“That,” Lundqvist said with a grin this week, “was actually before my time.”
Indeed, in 1998-99, Lundqvist was 16, playing for Vastra Frolunda in the Swedish junior league.
More than 800 regular-season and playoff games and a locker full of records and endorsements later, Lundqvist has witnessed the game’s latest transformation from a net-front perch.
“When I entered the league [in 2005-06], it was still big and strong [players],” he said. “In the last three, four years, there’s a lot more shorter players. It’s about skating, it’s about speed, it’s about balance and skill. The rules changes helped, there’s a lot less holding, grabbing, hooking [allowed]. So it’s a faster game for sure, a lot of odd-man rushes, that’s really where you get hurt, but that’s also where you cash in.”
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