Two months after signing with the Washington Capitals, Henrik Lundqvist said Thursday that he would not be able to play next season because of a heart condition.
Lundqvist, 38, a Swede, signed a one-year deal with the Capitals in October, just over a week after the Rangers bought the rest of his deal. The upcoming NHL season, the details of which have not yet been finalized, would have been his first after playing in New York every 15 years of his previous NHL career.
“After weeks of testing and talking to specialists across the country, it was found that heart disease was preventing me from taking the ice cream,” he said in a post on Twitter.
“Together we decided that the risk of gambling before my condition was corrected was too high, so I’ll be spending the coming months figuring out the best course of action.”
“It’s still very difficult for me to come to terms with all of this, and frankly it’s kind of shocking,” he said in a video statement released by the Capitals. “But with the experts involved, I know that this is the only way to take action.”
Many former teammates and fans on social media were baffled when they heard the news.
“We have no doubt that Henrik Lundqvist will face this challenge with the same determination and grace that has made him one of the greatest goalkeepers to ever play hockey and an inspiration to all of us,” the Rangers said in one Explanation .
The capitals issued a statement backing Lundqvist’s decision and wishing them all the best. On social media, Lundqvist had excitedly looked forward to playing for the Capitals, where Alex Ovechkin, a longtime rival, would be one of his teammates. He had planned to wear the number 35 instead of the number 30 he wore in New York.
Lundqvist played five seasons for Frolunda in Sweden – where he also wore the number 35 – before moving to the Rangers, who had chosen him in the 2000 draft overall in 205th place. Twenty-one more goalkeepers were selected before him.
Lundqvist has virtually every Rangers franchise goalkeeping record, including 459 wins and 64 shutouts. He helped Rangers reach the playoffs in 11 of his first 12 seasons and won the Vezina Trophy in 2012.
If he can get back to the ice, Lundqvist could still have 500 career wins and third place on the career list. Only 12 other NHL goalkeepers have hit the 400-win mark, led by Martin Brodeur (691) and Patrick Roy (551).