NY Rangers Legend Henrik Lundqvist Announces Retirement and Next Surgery By Matt Blittner, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
“HEN-RIK! HEN-RIK! HEN-RIK!”
That’s the sound of the Blueshirts Faithful serenading King Henrik. It is a sound that filled the hallowed air inside Madison Square Garden for 15-years and it is a sound that will forever remain a part of Rangers lore.
Friday morning, Henrik Lundqvist met with the media in Sweden at the same arena he first grew to love the game of hockey and announced to the world he was formally retiring from the NHL.
“I was hoping I would be 100 percent by this time,” said Lundqvist. “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.”
Armed with that information, Lundqvist spoke with his closest friends and his family and came to the decision that it was time to make official what many had speculated; his hockey playing career was over.
It is a smart decision. Lundqvist has a wife and two small daughters who have had to deal with a fair amount of uncertainty ever since the news broke last year that he would miss the 2020-21 season due to a heart condition he’s had his entire career.
Lundqvist has always been there for his family and they’ve been there for him. But when you start talking about hearts and surgeries, things can get scary quickly. There’s no doubt he wanted to continue playing the game he’s loved since he was a small child. His body just wouldn’t — couldn’t — go along.
There had been some thought that Lundqvist was going to make a late season comeback with the Capitals towards the end of the 2020-21 campaign, but a couple of setbacks and inflammation around his heart nixed those plans.
In the wake of Lundqvist’s announcement, the NY Rangers made one of their own. The franchise is retiring Henrik Lundqvist’s Number 30 and the ceremony will take place during the upcoming 2021-22 season. It was an expected move and a welcome one.
When Lundqvist last played a game, he did so without fans in attendance inside the bubble during last summer’s playoff play-in. At the time it was rumored he would be bought out and a few short weeks after the Rangers’ season ended against Carolina, rumor became fact.
Now, whenever the date gets set for Lundqvist’s ceremony, fans will pack Madison Square Garden and the chants of “HEN-RIK! HEN-RIK! HEN-RIK!” will return one final time.
There will be tears. There will be a waterfall of emotions. But mostly, there will be a celebration for one of the greatest Rangers to ever put on the crest-emblazoned jersey. A video of Lundqvist’s career highlights will play and fans will stand and cheer for the greatest goaltender in franchise history.
He never won the Stanley Cup. It’s a shame. That will always be the one glaring omission from his otherwise Hall of Fame career. But that won’t matter when 19,000+ finally get to say good-bye to the franchise icon.
The hope, of course, is that Lundqvist will be healed from his second heart surgery, one that was announced Friday afternoon. “We’ll see how extensive it will be,” Lundqvist said of the second surgery. “There’s progress, so we will see if the chest needs to be reopened or not.”
Here’s to hoping the second go-around is nowhere near as invasive or serious as the first. And after covering Lundvist during the latter portion of his career, I would like to extend my sincerest hopes and prayers to him and his family for a swift recovery.
Henrik, was always a class act and no amount of numbers or accolades on the back of a hockey card will ever be able to truly tell his tale. He meant everything to the city of New York. And whenever the night of his jersey retirement ends up being, the city will show him exactly how much it loved him.
Here’s to you King Henrik. There was and is nobody better to wear your crown.