Henrik Lundqvist said Monday he’s scheduled for open-heart surgery after tests revealed a heart condition that kept him from continuing to play goal in the NHL.
Lundqvist wrote on Twitter that he’s set to have an aortic valve, aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. He did not say when.
“(The) last three weeks my focus has shifted from training camp and the upcoming season to my health and what I can and can’t do,” Lundqvist said in announcing the operation. “We all have our mountains to climb. Staying positive here and set on the road to recovery.”
A physical after signing with the Washington Capitals led to further tests and his decision not to play this season. Washington general manager Brian MacLellan says Lundqvist has had a heart issue all along that he managed and the team expected it to be the same.
“Our trainer, Jason Serbus, did an unbelievable job,” MacLellan said last week. “Our doctors, the cardiologists, the specialists, it kept getting deeper and deeper. As we went that far, Henrik got a lot more knowledge of what his situation is and where it’s going and what his risk levels are.”
It’s unclear what changed for the 38-year-old after playing 15 seasons with the New York Rangers. When he revealed Dec. 17 he wouldn’t be playing this season, the Rangers said: “We have no doubt Henrik Lundqvist will face this challenge with the same fierce determination and grace that made him one of the best goaltenders to ever play the game of hockey and an inspiration to all of us.”
The Rangers bought out Lundqvist after last season, and he signed a $1.5 million, one-year contract to continue chasing the Stanley Cup with rival Washington. The Swedish native said the Capitals “checked every box,” and MacLellan called it a perfect fit before tests showed his risk level was “not acceptable” to keep playing.
“I think we’re grateful, everybody’s grateful that he went down that road, that our medical staffs, that our trainer pushed him down that road and explored it more,” MacLellan said. “I think the result is good that he’s very aware of where his health is at. Everybody’s a little disappointed that we couldn’t see what we could’ve done with him in the lineup.”