The King has decided to take off his crown for good.
New York Rangers legend and Hall-of-Fame bound goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist announced his retirement on Friday morning, finishing his 15-year career in the NHL.
“It’s time,” Lundqvist wrote on social media. “For the last 30 years, I have devoted my life to the game of hockey...and now it’s time to walk away from the game I love and begin a new chapter...There are so many things I love about this game: From the excitement I felt as an 8-year-old at my first practice to the 15 years of butterflies I had every time I took the ice in the greatest city in the world. I’m extremely grateful for what hockey has brought me and taught me in life. These lessons will never leave me.”
The Rangers bought out the final year of Lundqvist’s contract back in Sept. 2020, and after signing a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals, it was made public that he had an inflamed heart and ended up needing open-heart surgery, forcing him to sit out for the entire 2020-21 season.
After attempting multiple comebacks, Lundqvist revealed on Friday that it ended up being too much.
“When [this] summer started, my plan was still to come back,” Lundqvist told the media. “I started working out again and was skating, but without any contact. But there were some setbacks. Too much exertion caused some chest pain.
“I was hoping I would be 100 percent by this time. But I was told that 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.
“So I thought about this, talked with my closest friends, my family and my wife, Therese. This year was probably harder for her than for me. She is such a strong woman. It came down to how badly I wanted to push it, how much of a gamble did I want to take? And I came to the conclusion that there are too many unknowns and too much risk for not enough reward for me to keep playing.”
Lundqvist goes out with just one Vezina Trophy win in 2011-12, but he earned a spot in the top-6 of that trophy’s voting for 10 consecutive years, from his rookie year in 2005-06 to 2014-15. And despite never being able to lift the Stanley Cup above his head during his lengthy career, the 39-year-old seems at peace with it.
“I’m OK with this. I am,” Lundqvist said. “I feel like I’m at a very strong place mentally after going through all of the challenges of the last year, starting with when the Rangers bought me out,” said No. 30. “For the last eight months or so, there has been so much waiting-and-seeing, and I have not been in the driver’s seat. I’ve been in the passenger’s seat. Now, there was a decision to make.
“It’s all still fresh. I decided only a few days ago. But I am at peace. I look back at my career, and all I have is gratitude and pride. I am just so grateful.”
Always a stable force in between the posts, Lundqvist has been a part of major contenders in his prime, laden with stars at every position, but even the most consistent goaltending couldn’t prevent the Rangers from continuing their drought.
Through 887 appearances, Lundqvist held a record of 459-310-96 and earned an astounding career save percentage of .918 and a 2.43 goals-against average.
As with every king, his legacy will remain intact and stories will be told about him for generations. A truly special hockey force has officially ended his career.
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