Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers skates off the...

Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers skates off the ice after a game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It has been only two months since Henrik Lundqvist announced his retirement from hockey because of a heart condition, but the former Rangers goaltender said on Thursday that he is adapting well to his new reality.

"Sometimes things happen, and you have to adjust to that and not get stuck on the plan that you had," he said. "I’m trying to be very open to what comes next."

The latest example of that came this week, with the announcement that Lundqvist would join MSG Networks’ Rangers studio team for select games this season, probably around 20.

He spoke about his new role on Thursday on a video call with reporters, a few hours before he was to make his debut for the Rangers’ home opener against the Stars.

"It is an opportunity to stay connected to the game, and to the Rangers," said Lundqvist, who spent 15 seasons with the team and will have his No. 30 retired on Jan. 28. "It’s been such a big part of my life for so long."

Lundqvist, 39, will work with two people he knows well, longtime reporter John Giannone and analyst Steve Valiquette, who used to back up Lundqvist with the Rangers.

Noting that he is just "a rookie," Lundqvist said he will lean on Giannone and Valiquette for technical talk about the games and focus instead more on "mindset, emotions, stuff you might think in certain situations."

As for harsh critiques of coaches and players, don’t count on that.

"We’ll see how tough I’ll be when I sit there," he said, smiling. "But I’m just going to be honest with what I feel. In the end, I just enjoy watching the game and talking about the game and doing it with people that I really like."

Lundqvist indicated he got feelers from ESPN and Turner, the NHL’s two new national TV partners, but he deemed MSG a better fit because of his familiarity with the people there and the flexibility to help set his own schedule.

Lundqvist signed with but never played for the Washington Capitals last season and underwent open heart surgery in January. He said even though he was trying to return to the ice, he has had plenty of time to think about life after hockey over the past year-plus.

He is enjoying the freedom to pursue non-hockey interests and to travel with his family, which is based in New York, and is looking forward to activities that "bring it down a notch" from the competitive intensity of the NHL.

"Since my retirement, I’m happy. I’m in a good place," Lundqvist said. "Do I miss the game? Absolutely. When I watch the highlights and see a lot of my friends playing, ideally, I would still be playing.

"But you just have to adjust to what’s in front of you, and I’m in a good place. I’m happy."

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