On Thursday, December 17th, Washington Capitals goaltender and New York Rangers legend, Henrik Lundqvist, announced on his social media accounts that he had to step away from the NHL due to a heart condition. Over the past few weeks, Lundqvist mentioned that he had tests done on him and the best way to move forward for his health was to step away from the game that he has loved his entire life. Lundqvist, who signed a one-year contract with the Capitals earlier this offseason after being bought out by the Rangers, was set to back up Ilya Samonov this upcoming season. What does this mean for Lundqvist and the Capitals moving forward?
For Lundqvist, it’s all about getting himself healthy enough to play again. No one wants his career to end this way. For a legend like himself, to go out due to an injury like this would be absolutely heartbreaking. Fans, and no doubt management, want to see the King continue his career and play at the level he is capable of. This was supposed to be a resurgent year for him on a team looking to win another Stanley Cup with their current core of players. Lundqvist, who is the greatest goaltender in New York Rangers franchise history, has never won the 30-plus pound silver chalice in his career. He has come incredibly close before. In 2012, Lundqvist led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals where they would ultimately lose to the New Jersey Devils in six games. In 2014, the Rangers went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings in a series that was much closer than the result shows. In 2015, Lundqvist and the Rangers got all the way to game seven of the Eastern Conference finals but would fall to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games. He hasn’t been close since.
With the Rangers youth movement and rebuilding era chugging along, Igor Shesterkin was named the starting goaltender and Lundqvist signed with the Capitals this offseason.The Rangers bought out the final year of his deal and was hoping to chase the cup with Alexander Ovechkin, whom he has a good relationship with based a great mutual respect between the two. Lundqvist and Ovechkin have dueled in the playoffs and to see them suit up together would have been special and it still can be if Lundqvist can get healthy enough to play again. This offseason, Lundqvist has been showing off new gear he has had made for this season including a beautiful new goalie helmet and a stunning new set of goalie pads. Lundqvist was all in for the Capitals and it would be shame if he never got to use any of that awesome new gear.
Fans all over the NHL, whether they are a Rangers fan, Capitals fan or a rival, can appreciate and respect what the King has done over his 15 season career in the league and no one wants to see him go out this way. Many Rangers fans, including myself, wanted to see the Caps go far this year and win the cup to see Lundqvist grab that cup he deserves. He has earned the right to leave on his own terms and hopefully, that can still happen. Will Lundqvist return to the NHL? Hopefully he can as fans and analysts already speculate he may have played his last game. Let’s hope that’s not the case.
Now what does this mean for the Washington Capitals? They need to find a capable backup goalie for Ilya Samsonov, preferably someone with experience in case Samsonov isn’t truly ready to be a full time starter. Craig Anderson, former Senators and Avalanche goalie, is still out there and could be great at a bargain price for the Caps. Jimmy Howard, who had some spectacular years with the Detroit Red Wings is another veteran option for the Capitals. Ryan Miller, who might opt to stay out west, might be swayed to try to grab a cup with a team that still has the greatest goal scorer of all time for the next few seasons. It’ll be all about finding that right fit, both money wise and term wise.
We here at TXHThockey.com with nothing but the best for Henrik Lundqvist going forward. We wish him a speedy recovery and we hope he can get back to playing the game he loves in the nation’s capital.
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