“It breaks my heart (literally) to share this news: I will not be joining the Capitals this upcoming season,” Lundqvist said in a personal statement on Thursday released via Twitter. “After many weeks of tests and conversations with specialists around the country, it’s been determined that a 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.”
After having the final season of his contract bought out by the New York Rangers, the beloved netminder and fan favourite signed a one-year, $1.5-million deal with the Washington Capitals in October. The contract was a perfect fit between a contending team looking for an experienced veteran in the wake of Braden Holtby’s departure and an excellent opportunity for King Henrik to extend his career and compete for a Stanley Cup in another passionate hockey market. The 38-year-old was immediately embraced by Capitals fans and his new teammates upon news of the signing.
“For the past two months I’ve been so inspired by the opportunity to play in D.C. and committed to my game, spending every day at the rink to prepare for the upcoming season,” Lundqvist’s statement continued. “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.
“I want to thank the entire capitals organization for not only giving me this opportunity but also for their support throughout this challenging time,” he concluded. “I will take the next few weeks to be with my family and I’ll be back to share the next steps.”
The Capitals organization released a statement shortly after Lundqvist’s announcement, saying they support and stand by his decision.
“The Washington Capitals are supportive of Henrik’s decision to step away from hockey at this time due to his heart condition,” read the statement. “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.”
From a salary cap standpoint, the Capitals will be able to put Lundqvist’s one-year deal under long-term injury exemption, which means his $1.5 million won’t count against the cap.