Henrik Lundqvist, who announced on social media on Dec. 17 that a heart condition would prevent him from playing this season for the Washington Capitals, dropped an even bigger bombshell Monday when he announced the condition will require him to undergo open heart surgery.
"Last 3 weeks my focus has shifted from training camp and the upcoming season to my health and what I can and can't do," Lundqvist said on his Twitter account. "Scheduled for an open heart surgery now — aortic valve replacement, aortic root and ascending aortic replacement, to be more exact.
"We all have our mountains to climb," he concluded. "Staying positive here and set on the road to recovery. [thumbs-up emoji]’’
Lundqvist, 38, was the face of the Rangers for 15 seasons after coming over from Sweden in 2005. But he was bought out of the final year of his contract Sept. 30, after being replaced as the team’s No. 1 goaltender by 24-year-old Russian Igor Shesterkin. Ten days later, Lundqvist signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract as a free agent with Washington, with the intention of being a partner/mentor/backup to young Caps goalie Ilya Samsonov.
But two weeks ago, Lundqvist announced his heart condition would preclude him from playing this season. Washington general manager Brian MacLellan, in a Dec. 23 interview with Capitals media, explained that Lundqvist had "had a heart issue all along that he’s managed, and it’s been fine,’’ but a routine physical determined that Lundqvist should not play this season.
"His risk level is not acceptable for him to play,’’ MacLellan said.
Lundqvist, a native of Are, Sweden, left the Rangers as the club’s winningest goaltender, with 459 career victories, sixth all-time. His career record is 459-310-96, with a career goals-against average of 2.43, a save percentage of .918 and 64 shutouts, all with the Rangers.
The Rangers did not make a statement Monday, but after his initial Dec. 17 announcement, the team put out a statement that said, "We have no doubt that Henrik Lundqvist will face this challenge with the same fierce determination and grace that made him one of the greatest goaltenders ever to play the game of hockey, and an inspiration to all of us.’’