Henrik Lundqvist won’t be continuing his NHL career with the Capitals this season.
The ex-Ranger goalie announced via Twitter on Thursday a heart condition will keep him from playing. The 38-year-old Swede, a future Hall of Famer, signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Capitals on Oct. 9 after 15 seasons in New York.
"It breaks my heart (literally) to share this news: I will not be joining the Capitals this upcoming season," Lundqvist tweeted. "After many weeks of tests and conversations with specialists around the country, it’s been determined that a heart condition will prevent me from taking the ice. Together, we have decided that the risk of playing before remedying my condition is too high. So I will spend the coming months figuring out the best course of action."
Lundqvist did not specify more about his condition or whether it was COVID-19 related.
"For the past two months, I’ve been so inspired by the opportunity to play in DC and committed to my game, spending every day at the rink to prepare for the upcoming season," Lundqvist added in his Twitter post. "The news was very difficult to process but after the last test result earlier this week we knew there was only one way to go from here.
"I want to thank the entire Capitals organization for not only giving me this opportunity but also for their support throughout this challenging time. I will take the next few weeks to be with my family and I’ll be back to share the next steps."
Lundqvist has a career record of 459-310-96 – he has the sixth most wins in NHL history for goalies – with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. He led Sweden to the gold medal in the 2006 Olympics and the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 as they lost to the Kings in five games.
But he was just 10-12-3 with a 3.16 GAA and a .905 save percentage in 2019-20 as he lost his role as the Rangers’ No. 1 goalie to Russian rookie Igor Shesterkin, with Alex Georgiev stepping in as the main backup as the team carried three netminders. The Rangers bought out the final season of Lundqvist’s seven-year, $59.5 million deal on Sept. 30.
Lundqvist indicated in an interview last month with the Goteborgs-Posten, a Swedish-language newspaper based in Gothenburg, he expected to return to the Rangers in some capacity once his playing career concluded.
"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 to ever play the game of hockey, and an inspiration to all of us," the Rangers said in a statement. "He and his family are in our thoughts during this difficult time. He will always be a part of the New York Rangers family."
In Washington, Lundqvist was expected to work in a goalie tandem with Ilya Samsonov.
"The Washington Capitals are supportive of Henrik’s decision to step away from hockey at this time due to his heart condition," the organization said in a statement. "Our players’ health is of the utmost importance, and we stand behind Henrik’s decision. We want to wish him and his family all the best moving forward."
The Capitals also posted a video message from Lundqvist addressed to their fans on the team’s Twitter account.
A downcast Lundqvist, repeating all the information he posted to Twitter, also acknowledged, "Today is a pretty tough and emotional day for me…It’s still very hard for me to process all of this and it’s kind of shocking, to be honest."