ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals goaltender Charlie Lindgren traces his fingers over the backplate of his new Reverse Retro mask, showing off the intricate details. Over the matte black, he maintained the same design on his backplate for a long time, and adjacent to the cross and above his surname is a long quote on the right hand side.
The 28-year-old smiles when asked about it and confidently recites the paragraph that he has had memorized and held close to his heart for years.
“‘I will persist until I succeed. I was not delivered into this world into defeat, nor does failure course my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion, and I refuse to talk, walk and to sleep with the sheep. I will persist until I succeed,'” he reads.
The 28-year-old isn’t too familiar with the work of Og Mandino, an American author and at one time a pilot in the U.S. military, but that quote has stuck with him throughout his career. And in many ways, he sees himself as a lion while continuing what’s been a wild road to the NHL.
“It’s more so just probably a mindset. Having that confidence, it’s not a cockiness,” he said matter-of-factly. “I feel like I’m capable of doing a lot of big things. That’s kind of the way I look at it.”
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Lindgren, born and raised in Minnesota, pushed himself up the ranks, graduating from high school hockey to the USHL to the NCAA. And, after being passed over twice in the NHL Draft, he earned a deal from the Montreal Canadiens. That was a blessing in disguise, as it drove him to capitalize on every opportunity like it would be his last.
After solid showings across the AHL and NHL levels over the years and standing out with the St. Louis Blues in 2021-22, Lindgren became a popular free-agent target. Out of all the teams, he chose Washington. Why? He wanted to be a part of something big, embrace the challenge and win by any means necessary, just like the lion.
“Certainly lions, they’re big, physical and mean. Am I big, physical and mean? Maybe not. But I think it’s more of a mentality. No one wants to mess with a lion.”
And he’s right. Talking to Lindgren, he’s all smiles, not a mean bone in his body. But when it comes to do it, he resembles the lion with his big personality and drive to succeed.
“Gosh, he’s fun. He’s great, he’s just got such a great personality. He works his butt off in practice,” Matt Irwin said.
When it comes down to it though, Lindgren sees the lion as his spirit animal because of his perseverance, and the fact that goalies are in fact a different breed. As his scouting reports point out, he refuses to give up on any shot or any play. And when presented with obstacles and challenges over the course of his career, he has stood tall and faced them head on.
“I welcome the pressure,” he explained, adding, “Throughout my career, I’ve been through a bunch of adversity. But it’s never stopped me. I’ve kept on pushing. I’m a hard guy to knock down.”
So far in his D.C. tenure, Lindgren is 1-1 with a .925 save percentage. He is also a beloved locker room presence, and he and Darcy Kuemper have formed a tight bond already as the new Capitals goalies.
“We’re on the ice 20 minutes before practice tomorrow and t. We spend a lot of time in the gym together. The goaltending position, you spend a lot of time stretching. We do a lot of that,” Lindgren said. “Just kind of BSing in the morning. Just sitting on some foam rollers, hanging out, talking. A lot of time talking over a cup of coffee in the morning,t oo. It’s huge to have a partner, a really good partnership with a goalie partner. And Darcy and I, we certainly have that.”