Henrik Lundqvist won’t play with the Washington Capitals this season because of a heart condition.
“It breaks my heart (literally) to share this news: I will not be joining the Capitals this upcoming season,” the 38-year-old goalie posted on Twitter on Thursday. “After many weeks of tests and conversations with specialists around the country, it’s been determined that 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.
“For the past 2 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. 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.”
In a statement, the Capitals said: “The Washington Capitals are supportive of Henrik’s decision to step away from hockey at this time due to his heart condition. 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.”
Lundqvist signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Washington on 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 with 23-year-old Ilya Samsonov, who pushed Braden Holtby for playing time as a rookie last season, to be the starter. Holtby signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 9.
“I want to thank the entire Capitals organization for not only giving me this opportunity, but also for their support throughout this challenging time,” Lundqvist said. “I will take the next few weeks to be with my family and I’ll be back to share the next steps.”
Selected by the Rangers in the seventh round (No. 205) of the 2000 NHL Draft, Lundqvist went 459-310-96 with a 2.43 GAA, a .918 save percentage and 64 shutouts in 887 games in 15 seasons with New York. He is sixth in NHL history in wins, seventh in saves (23,509), eighth in games, ninth in starts (871), ninth in time on ice (51,816:19) and 16th in shutouts.
Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy voted as the best goalie in the NHL in 2011-12 and has been a finalist for the award four other times (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2012-13).