It was always going to be very weird to see a Rangers team without Henrik Lundqvist and a Capitals team with him this upcoming season, assuming the NHL and players can ever figure out when and how that will happen. Frighteningly, we will not see the latter scenario, as Lundqvist has announced he will not play this season due to a heart condition.
Whenever you hear about an athlete and a heart condition, it is a scary prospect for all. Lundqvist is absolutely making the right decision to address this condition, whatever it is, first as he has two young daughters at home.
Whether we’ll see Lundqvist ever again is certainly a question, though a secondary one to his overall health. He’s 38 and was only on a one-year deal with the Caps to back up Ilya Samsonov. His numbers have been trending down for a few seasons now, and the past two seasons were especially rough.
One can easily understand Lundqvist’s desire to go out on something a little more bright than his recent performances, and with a Caps team that’s always dancing around contention at worst and elbow-deep in it a lot of years. But if this is it for him, and it should be if that’s the safest route, he certainly doesn’t have to apologize to anyone or hang his head in any fashion. He was the only thing about the Rangers worth watching for years, and dragged some thoroughly middling Rangers teams to the later rounds of the playoffs on his back. His #30 will hang in the MSG rafters within the next few years, and an induction to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot will soon follow.
Most importantly, let’s hope he can live a full and healthy life from here on out, whatever his playing future holds.