Henrik Lundqvist, 39, announced his retirement from hockey on Friday after 15 seasons in the NHL — all with the New York Rangers.
The King held a press conference at Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg, Sweden, to say goodbye to the sport he so dearly loved. The speech began a few minutes after 3 PM (Swedish time) or 9 AM Eastern Time.
The venue was personally significant. Scandinavium Arena is where Lundqvist watched his first professional hockey game as a kid. The barn is also home to Frölunda HC – the team he dreamed to play for and would later star with as a young adult before moving on to New York Rangers and the NHL in 2005.
Here is Lundqvist’s full speech as translated by RMNB’s Magnus Cadelin.
Henrik Lundqvist: Welcome and thank you for being here. It’s been a while! Some of you I’ve met, but it’s been a few years. But I would like to start with… A lot of you who are here or your editors. I’ve had the pleasure of working together with you for the last 20 years. Having a relationship with the media takes a lot of your time when you’re a player. All the interviews and feature stories. I would like to thank you all who are here and your colleagues. When you’re in this line of work, it’s a bit like we’re telling a story together. And the reason we’re here today is that I’m starting a new chapter of my story.
I’ve chosen to put my hockey career to rest. [I’ve had] a lot of thoughts and emotions. One of the reasons we’re at this place today. This is where everything started out for me, here at Scandinavium 34 years ago. I was here, as a kid from Åre, five-years old, watched my first professional hockey game. It had a great impact on me.
I remember it being a big dream for me, growing up to play at this arena for Frölunda. Maybe win the Swedish championship. Another dream and inspiration was getting the opportunity to represent Sweden and Tre Kronor in the big tournaments, the Olympics, maybe a World Championship. And if I were lucky enough, maybe cross the Atlantic to play against the very best.
You never know where life will take you. But when I’m here today, thinking back on my career and I feel a lot of joy. Pride. But above all gratitude. I’m grateful for all the memories and the moments I’ve experienced on the ice. Grateful for all the friendships I’ve made that will follow me for the rest of my life.
I want to thank my family. My (twin) brother Joel, my sister Gabriella, my wife Therese, Mom and Dad, [Lundqvist begins choking up] who have all been on this journey with me and supported me, especially this last year which was a challenge.
I also want to thank all the coaches and players I’ve had the opportunity to play with. I want to thank my clubs. Järpen, where it all started, Rögle, Frölunda of course, New York Rangers. They’ve all meant a lot to me in their own when, there, and then. But a big part of my life I’ve dedicated to these clubs.
Last but not least, I want to thank all of the fans. I’ve felt an enormous amount of support, both here in Sweden, whether it was for the national team or in Frölund, and in New York. It has given me so much joy to feel that support. I will be eternally grateful to you. Whether I run into someone in the streets or if it’s loud cheering from the stands. I will really miss that and that intense feeling you get on the ice and compete.
Hockey has given me so much. Both as a player but above all as a person and there’s a lot of things I will carry with me. And I hope that when I turn the page and start a new chapter in life that I will find these things, I’m thinking about joy, to be inspired, to be challenged – something I really like and will look for – in this new chapter.
I do have some future plans. But we’ll talk about that some other time. Once again, thank you all for being here. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way. It’s been amazing. I’m incredibly grateful and happy.
Later, Lundqvist gave an interview with Swedish Public Radio, Radiosporten, and spoke to Christian Olsson of Sveriges Radio
The iconic hockey goalie Henrik Lundqvist have at the age of 39 decided to put an end to his career – how does that feel?
Henrik Lundqvist: It’s emotional. Hockey has been a huge part of my life. My biggest source of inspiration. I have a lot of thoughts right now but I’ve landed a bit in what condition I’m in. It’s been a long year with different challenges. First, my heart surgery. I was just days away from getting back and joining Washington Capitals when I had inflammation, pericarditis. I have to let that take its time and heal. There’s too much uncertainty to me to go out on the ice in full force. Part of it is medication, part is a question of how hard I can practice. That’s why I’ve made this decision to put my health in the first room. There are obviously mixed feelings. I’m thinking back with a smile on my face, it feels amazing having been part of so many different things, met so many great people along the way, and done things I couldn’t even have dreamt. At the same time, the feelings I have for the sport of hockey make it very difficult to say goodbye.
Was it a tough decision or was it inevitable?
Henrik Lundqvist: It was tough. There are two parts of me. You have the human Henrik who understands that this is the decision I have to make and then there’s the competitor in me who really wants to go on competing because I love that. But I have to look at how I want to feel [medically] as a person, being able to live a normal active life. There are certain risks with going at it too hard right now and that’s why we’re in this situation.
The King leaves the game with 459 wins, the sixth-most in NHL history. He will likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
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