The first mention, as far as the NY Post archives could pull up, was in a game story on October 16, 2005 which was a 5-1 win over the Thrashers.
“Fast becoming a Broadway folk hero, King Henrik of Sweden took an abbreviated victory lap around the ice while raising his stick and glove in a return salute to the fans who alternately chanted, “Henrik” and “Lundqvist” throughout the match in which the goaltender made several nifty stops among his 28 saves.”
In SI, where Hank was on the cover, Brian Cazenevue wrote about how that was the night that NY started to embrace Hank, “But it wasn’t until his second game at the Garden, two days later against the Thrashers, when the affection between goalie and city became palpable. Late during a brilliant night in the net, Lundqvist gave up an unlucky, bad-angle goal after it bounced off a teammate’s skate. A 4-0 Rangers lead was now 4-1. The crowd stood, but instead of booing, it chanted, in a Gotham-inflected serenade, “Hen-REEK! Hen-REEK!” He was thrown. “That’s not for me, is it?” he asked himself. “I just got here.” Ten minutes after New York’s 5-1 win, he again circled the ice as the game’s first star, clapped for the crowd’s generosity and tossed his stick into the stands. “
As also noted in many articles from the NY Post archive, Hank was looked at as a highly regarded player in the Rangers system a few years before he made his debut.
9/18/03: “The Rangers cannot at this date bring Henrik Lundqvist, their very highly regarded, 21-year-old Swedish netminder, over to North America. Lundqvist, who last month was selected as the all-star goaltender in a four-nation European tournament, is under contract to Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League. The deadline for bringing players of his contractual status to North America was a loophole-free Aug. 15.”
12/26/03: “Defenseman Fedor Tjutin is a high-end prospect. Forwards Dominic Moore, Hugh Jessiman, Garth Murray, Jed Ortmeyer, defenseman Ivan Baranka, and goalies Henrik Lundqvist and the recuperating Dan Blackburn all have a good chance to play.”
6/13/04: “The Rangers seem to have been caught in a vise concerning Henrik Lundqvist, the Swedish goaltender the Blueshirts had hoped to sign and have in Hartford for the start of the AHL season. Lundqvist, selected by the Rangers in the seventh round of the 2000 Entry Draft, and who earned all-star honors at the World Championship and a spot on his country’s World Cup squad, has one year remaining on his contract with Frolundia of the Swedish Elite League that he’s not going to be able to void. We’re told that Frolundia asked the Rangers for $450,000 in order to release Lundqvist, but the Blueshirts refused to make the payment. Hence, it appears as though it will be at least one more year before the 22-year-old gets his first North American experience.”
6/25/04: “Despite the presence of goaltending prospects Dan Blackburn and Henrik Lundqvist on an otherwise shallow organizational depth chart, the Rangers this week have indicated serious interest in selecting U. of Michigan netminder Alvaro Montoya with the sixth overall pick in tomorrow’s NHL Entry Draft, sources have told The Post.”
6/27/04: “We think we can win a Stanley Cup with Danny, and that Henrik is the best goaltender in Europe,” said Maloney. “Hopefully they’re all going to be stars, and they’re all going to be assets.”