That’s what Henrik Lundqvist wrote to begin his post on social media announcing his retirement. After 15 years of manning an NHL crease, “The King” has hung up his pads.
“It’s time,” he wrote. “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. The future excited me. I’ve met so many amazing people over the years that will help to guide and inspire me in my new journey.
“There are 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.”
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It’s been a tumultuous year for Lundqvist. Last October he was bought out by the Rangers after a long and storied career on Broadway. A week later he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Capitals.
“Henrik is probably the best reaction goaltender I’ve ever had a chance to watch,” ex-teammate Marty Biron said in an interview with Sporting News last year. “I always thought that the game slowed down [for him] to a point where, if the guy shot the puck, in his head it slowed right down that he was able to go and react with either the blocker or the glove or the leg pad and make the save.”
But then, in December, Lundqvist announced that he would not be able to play in the 2021 season because of a heart condition.
“It breaks my heart (literally) to share this news,” he posted on Twitter. “I will not be joining the Capitals this upcoming season. 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.”
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A few weeks later, he had open-heart surgery to correct the problem and was hoping to get back in between the pipes at some point.
Just 10 days ago, Lundqvist had posted that he was returning to the ice, which teased a possible comeback.
Not sure how many times I’ve been sitting here, tying and untying the pads over the years, 15.000? I’m just guessing.. Back at it, we’ll see what happens ? pic.twitter.com/9uGubSKYnl
— Henrik Lundqvist (@hlundqvist35) August 10, 2021
Now that comeback is not to be.
Lundqvist leaves a lasting legacy. Between 2005 and 2015, he was one of the game’s most dynamic puck-stoppers not only in the regular season but also in the big games and at the biggest moments in the playoffs. In those 10 seasons, he earned a spot in the top six of Vezina Trophy voting every time, including being a finalist in his first three NHL seasons before winning the award given to the league’s best goaltender after a dominating 2011-12 season.
He capped off his career with 459 wins — sixth on the all-time wins list. The next stop is surely the Hockey Hall of Fame.
After the news came down, the hockey world took to Twitter to congratulate him on his storied career.
Congrats on an incredible career! I always remember getting a little extra amped up when I knew you were in the crease at the other end! ? https://t.co/5k6ghIYGqj
— Strombone (@strombone1) August 20, 2021
Henrik Lundqvist’s 459 wins are the most among goalies who played every game of their career with one team. Yes, he signed with the Capitals and wore their jersey but that record remains intact.
Carey Price is the closest active goalie, 99 wins back. https://t.co/L4sRRTCYKY
— Steve “Dangle” Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) August 20, 2021
Congrats on an amazing career, Hank. A model player, on and off the ice ?
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) August 20, 2021