Capitals' Henrik Lundqvist Has Inflammation Around His Heart, Won't Play This Season

Blake SchusterContributor IApril 11, 2021

New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist sits on the bench during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. The Penguins won 6-5. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Washington Capitals goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will not make it back to the ice this season, the 39-year-old announced Sunday. 

The former New York Rangers star underwent open-heart surgery in January 2021 to address a heart condition and hoped to appear in a game for the Capitals before the season ended. Lundqvist had been working with trainers to rejoin the team, but a recent check-up revealed inflammation around the goalie's heart that will require him to step back from the sport again. 

Henrik Lundqvist @hlundqvist35

Right after getting back on the ice after surgery, I made it my “stretch goal” to join @Capitals for the end of the season. Training has been going really well and I’ve been feeling good - but my heart isn’t quite ready.

Henrik Lundqvist @hlundqvist35

Last week’s checkup showed some inflammation around the heart that now requires a few months more of rest and steady recovery. <br>While it’s not what I hoped for, I know this is all part of the process of getting back to 100%.

Lundqvist has yet to appear in a game with Washington after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in October to join just the second NHL franchise of his career. 

Lundqvist is sixth all time in NHL goalie wins (459) and second only to Marc-Andre Fleury (483) among active keepers. Both still have a ways to go before catching Martin Brodeur's 691 wins for most in league history, but they could become just third and fourth goalies to surpass 500 wins, respectively, after Brodeur and Patrick Roy (551).

Whether or not Lundqvist is able to get back on the ice at all is now a much more pressing issue.

In the meantime, the Capitals (26-11-4, 56 points) remain tied with the New York Islanders atop the East Division. Washington's top goaltender, Vitek Vanecek is fifth in the league with 16 wins this season, though his 2.66 goals-against average and 91.1 save percentage leave plenty to be desired. 

The Caps are looking to march back to the Stanley Cup Final after winning the Cup in 2018. They'll now have to do that without any hope of Lundqvist returning this year—as well as determine how to proceed with the impending free agent this offseason.