CJ Hernandez is a 32-year-old Rangers fan who lives a little north of New York City. On Wednesday, CJ went viral on social media after the NHL shared his epic Henrik Lundqvist jersey collection. A photo of the sweaters, which also featured a random Jeff Beukeboom jersey, garnered 57k-plus likes on the NHL’s Instagram page and the admiration of hockey fans everywhere.
CJ has a staggering 16 different Lundqvist jerseys — well, 17, if you include a Lundqvist home jersey that was signed, framed, and hung in CJ’s basement.
“Obviously, I couldn’t wear that,” CJ said in an interview.
Here are the jerseys Left to Right starting at the top.
Row 1: Lundqvist’s 2012 Ottawa All-Star Game jersey, Lundqvist’s New York Rangers home jersey, Lundqvist’s 2009 Montreal All-Star Game, Lundqvist’s New York Rangers practice jersey, Lundqvist’s 2016 Team Sweden World Cup jersey
Row 2: Lundqvist’s 2019 San Jose All-Star Game, Lundqvist’s 2018 Hockey Fights Cancer jersey, Lundqvist’s yellow Team Sweden jersey, Lundqvist’s 85th Anniversary Heritage jersey, Lundqvist’s New York Rangers home jersey, Lundqvist’s 2006 Liberty Alternate jersey
Row 3: Lundqvist’s 2018 Winter Classic jersey, Lundqvist’s 2018 Veteran’s Day jersey, Lundqvist’s 2018 Tampa Bay All-Star Game jersey, Lundqvist’s 2012 Winter Classic jersey, and Lundqvist’s Yankee Stadium Stadium Series jersey
Practically speaking, CJ owns every Lundqvist NHL jersey, but he sees it differently. There are still a few fringe outliers. He hasn’t been able to land a Lundqvist Frolunda jersey — the team he played with before he got drafted — and there are still a few Lundqvist charity game jerseys out of reach. “I know I’ll probably never have those, but are fun to try and collect,” he said.
CJ, who openly wonders what Hank thinks of his collection, first became a fan of the Swedish goaltender during the goaltender’s rookie season in 2005-06.
“Hank came in to start when Kevin Weekes got injured early on in the season and just played really well,” CJ said. “I’ve been a Ranger fan my whole life and that particular time period growing up, the Rangers were not very good. So this new guy comes in and starts winning games and making hockey in New York fun again.
“It was hard not to root for the guy,” he added. “He even inspired me to try out goaltending myself, and I still play today. I had a ton of fun watching those 2000, 2010s teams for sure.”
The massive jersey collection started when CJ was in college.
“I first bought the home jersey when I was in college and it was a big deal because I was broke,” CJ said. “From there, I bought the Winter Classic jersey and the Heritage Classic sweater. It just kind of snowballed into saying I should own every jersey he’s ever worn.
“It’s cool, too,” he continued. “Any time someone comes to a game people ask me to borrow one. I usually take at least one person I know to their first Ranger game every season. Another fun one was when I saw the Rangers up in Montrèal with 5 friends. We all rocked 30s for sure.”
CJ estimates that the Lundqvist jersey collection cost him about $2,000 to $2,500 and that he usually waits for deals to pull the trigger. Other jerseys were gifts, some were purchased on eBay, some were custom-stitched, and others took some hard work and dedication – traits that typically describe Lundqvist’s hockey career — to land.
“The blue Sweden World Cup of Hockey jersey was hard to come by,” CJ said. “I called Madison Square Garden the day they came out in the summertime and ordered one over the phone. They only had a few of those in stock and I hardly ever see the blue one around. Someone from Sweden actually offered me $500 for it when I was at the World Cup in Toronto. The Yankee Stadium game jersey I bought at Yankee Stadium because they were hard to come by with a name on the back too.”
CJ says that he will continue adding to his Lundqvist jersey collection even though the goaltender is now a member of the Washington Capitals; the Rangers bought out Lundqvist over the offseason and The King signed a one-year deal with Washington in October. He will wear number 35 with the Caps.
“Most Ranger fans could see the split coming,” CJ said. “Shesterkin is a great prospect and Georgiev is definitely capable. It’s not ideal to have three goaltenders. I do think some fans were a little unfair towards him towards the end — our defense wasn’t exactly stellar — but that’s the nature of the game sometimes. I still think he’s got plenty of talent left, especially if you look at some of the advanced stats out there. I’m excited to see him still in the NHL, and I’ll definitely be watching Capitals games this yea. I hope he does well, but it’s definitely weird.”
CJ believes it’s possible his collection will surpass 20 by the end of the 2020-21 season.
“Now that he’s on the Caps it’ll be fun to add three, maybe four more jerseys to the collection!” CJ said excitedly. Then he admitted a secret. “I just bought Lundqvist’s Capitals home jersey utilizing a Black Friday sale. I’ll likely get Lundqvist’s Capitals Reverse Retro jersey next, then the away white, and if there’s a new third jersey I’ll work on that.”
Photo: CJ Hernandez
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