When you get hit by the first snowstorm courtesy Nor’Easter Winter Storm Gail, it is already daunting with the calendar still in December. While the snow totals might not have been as bad here in Staten Island or even areas of New Jersey where more was expected, it’s a lot to digest on the East Coast. We don’t get many early winter storms.
However, the major news that Henrik Lundqvist revealed this afternoon was truly stunning. The former New York Rangers legend, who was all set to debut with his new team in the Washington Capitals, announced that he won’t be able to play this season. One that’s hopefully expected to kick off on January 13 with the proposed 56 game schedule. That feels like it doesn’t matter anymore.
The 38-year old posted a message to both his Instagram and Twitter accounts that he cannot play in 2021 due to a heart condition that was discovered. Apparently, the risks are too high for Lundqvist to partake in an abbreviated 2020-21 NHL season. He visited many specialists before reaching this tough decision.
It’s sad. I really was looking forward to seeing him play for his new team. Even if it was for the rival Caps, who wasn’t excited to see Lundqvist wear his traditional number 35 in new Capitals threads including their classic reverse retro jersey? It’s hard to believe he can’t play. He received so many well wishes from the hockey community, who all come together when something like this happens. Look at how everyone reacted to Oskar Lindblom returning from bone cancer last summer. We were all #OskarStrong.
Now, this late into a brilliant career that should one day see him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and have his number 30 hang from The Garden rafters sooner rather than later, Lundqvist will try to get better. I sure hope he makes a full recovery and can go out on his own terms. It’s not the way anyone envisioned. Of course, health comes before anything.
Lundqvist never once uttered the ‘r’ word. He intends to return. I want that for him. This is a prideful man who gave his heart and soul to the Blueshirts. It was blood, sweat and tears for King Henrik on Broadway. A remarkable story as a seventh round pick taken in 2000 by the Rangers. He won a Vezina, was a finalist five times and even up for a Hart Trophy. Lundqvist established many franchise records by a Rangers goalie, easily surpassing the franchise’s best in appearances, wins and shutouts. He also has the most saves and is obviously the postseason leader among NYR netminders. It’s all been echoed before.
We all are rooting for him. Here is a video message he recorded along with some well wishes from the NHL community.
Interestingly, some of the team’s rivals responded quicker than the Rangers. I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. I can only imagine the news came as a shock to his former team. It’s stunning for everyone. Lundqvist is very loved and respected by the hockey community. That story Ray Ferraro told about him stopping to sign 50 to 75 autographs before a home playoff game says it all. He truly got it. That’s so rare in sports these days.
No matter what the future holds, Henrik Lundqvist is a champion at life. Nothing will ever change that. Sending my absolute best to him and praying he can come back and finish a great career. I hope it’s still with the Caps.