After being bought out by the New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist signed with the Capitals ahead of the 2020-21 season, hoping that his career would have a fairy-tale ending like Ray Bourque’s. Instead, a heart condition, that worsened over the offseason, ended Lundqvist’s season before it began.
The goaltender went to extreme measures to try and find a way to come back to the NHL. According to GP’s Johan Rylander and the Rangers’ blog Forever Blueshirts, who presented an English translation, Lundqvist chose to have his faulty aortic valve replaced by one made of cow tissue, instead of a mechanical valve, to avoid going on blood thinners. The decision gave Hank a better chance of returning to the Capitals, but he will have to have another heart surgery in the future.
During the conversation, Lundqvist also revealed that he was three days away from returning to the Capitals before a painful infection in his chest ended his comeback attempt.
“It was three days before I was going back to Washington that I found out that I had pericarditis,” Lundqvist said. “I was very close to coming back – it was very tough to go through that again, but this was a completely different thing – because it had nothing to do with the operation.”
“I got some kind of infection that attacked and sat around the heart in some way. It was quite painful,” Lundqvist said. “I was completely overwhelmed for five days, lying with chest pains and feeling sick. I’ve had a couple of setbacks this spring – and this was a reminder. I didn’t want to end up there again.”
Lundqvist told the New York Post that the “inflammation takes a long time to correct and with medication I might be out of the woods, but it could be another full year before I would be 100 percent.”
The pain, combined with the prognosis, led Lundqvist to the decision to retire on Friday.
“I have to let that take its time and heal,” a tearful Lundqvist said to media in Sweden during his goodbye press conference. “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.”
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