After being criticized for staying quiet NHL goalie Henrik Lundqvist speaks out against anti-gay law
Henrik Lundqvist, who has taken a fair amount of heat since declining comment on the Russian government’s anti-gay laws during an appearance on behalf of the Swedish Olympic team last Friday, spoke out Monday upon his arrival in North America.
“As a private person, sitting here now, I do not have a problem saying that I do not agree with the laws and that they are not correct,” Lundqvist told The Post at the Rangers’ practice rink in Greenburgh after joining a half-dozen teammates on the ice. “I have been taking a stand for gay athletes and gay people the last few years.
“I think it is very important that we all have the same rights.”
Lundqvist, who won a gold medal with Sweden in 2006, is his country’s presumptive No. 1 goaltender for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
“The reason I didn’t say anything last week is because we had talked right before that with the Swedish Olympic Federation about the importance of keeping the focus of the Olympics on the games and sports,” said the goaltender, who returned to New York from Sweden on Sunday.
“I agree with that. It’s important that the Olympics don’t become a political place. Every country has its own issues. The history of the Olympics shows that each [site] has had some serious issues.”
Lundqvist participated in the first phase of the NHL’s “You Can Play” program in support of gay athletes two years ago. He was eloquent regarding the subject of gay rights when the NBA’s Jason Collins came out in April.
Yet, he has been criticized for choosing to remain silent on the issue last week while Team Sweden mates Henrik Zetterberg and Victor Hedman addressed the matter.
“It was all about the setting and the context,” Lundqvist said. “Representing Sweden, I feel it’s best to keep the focus on the competition because that’s what makes the Olympics so special for the athletes.
“But of course as a private person, I will express my support for equal rights and my opposition to laws that go against that. I think I can use my position to do some good, but the time and the place have to be right.”