Henrik Lundqvist was back on the ice Tuesday for the first time since having open-heart surgery in early January.
The Washington Capitals goalie posted videos on his Instagram and Twitter accounts of him facing shots and working on his lateral movement at a private rink in Alpine, New Jersey.
“Day 47. Back to the rink.” Lundqvist said in a video that showed him sitting in his car. “Love it. Let’s do it.”
Lundqvist is in the early stages of his recovery and it’s unclear if he intends to try to play in the NHL this season. The sixth-winningest goalie in NHL history (459-310-96) has been on long-term injured reserve since the start of the season.
The 38-year-old signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract Oct. 9 after he had the final season of his contract bought out by the New York Rangers on Sept. 30. He was expected to compete for Washington’s starting job in training camp before he announced Dec.17 he could not play this season because of a heart condition.
Lundqvist announced Dec. 28 he was scheduled to have open-heart surgery for an “aortic valve replacement, aortic root and ascending aortic replacement to be more exact.” Since exiting the hospital, Lundqvist has posted multiple videos on social media chronicling his recovery, including some over the past two weeks showing him running and working out off the ice.
But this was his first time skating.
“I think, ‘Thank God some good news,'” Rangers forward Chris Kreider said. “I mean, nothing can warm your heart more than seeing that. Open-heart surgery how long ago and he’s already feeling better, he’s already active. You’d expect nothing less from him.
“He’s not the kind of guy who is going to sit on his hands. He’s got to recover actively. He’s a guy who always needs to move. Yeah, that’s some of the best news I’ve heard in a long time and we’re thrilled for him. Hopefully he’s got a lot of hockey left in him and hopefully he just keeps on progressing, leaves this in his rearview mirror.”
Lundqvist posted a video on Instagram of him loading his hockey equipment into the trunk of his car and another of his car headed toward the George Washington Bridge with the caption, “I missed driving. … First Day behind the wheel in 9 weeks.”
Wearing a Capitals practice jersey and his Capitals mask and equipment, Lundqvist faced some breakaway shots in one video.
“The best type of workday!” Lundqvist tweeted.
In another video, Lundqvist skated back and forth inside the crease, testing his lateral movement.
“Working those legs with a steady pulse and drills with a lot of control,” Lundqvist posted on Instagram. “Today was FUN!”