I have to admit I was really looking forward to seeing what a new team and a new challenge was going to do for the rejuvenation of veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist this season, but as well all know he never got to play even a single game for the Washington Capitals.
Lundqvist signed with the Capitals as an unrestricted free agent after he was bought out his existing contract with the New York Rangers but, although he did train with the Capitals, that was where his journey with Washington came to a sudden halt. In December of last year it was discovered, likely during a series of routine medical exams leading into the season, that Lundqvist was actually dealing with a very serious heart problem. It was so serious in fact that Lundqvist announced he would need to undergo heart surgery in order to provide him with an aortic valve replacement, aortic root and an ascending aortic replacement.
Needless to say that although many fans were very excited to see him play with the Capitals, the focus immediately shifted to his long term health following the dramatic announcement. I'll be honest here, once I heard the news I genuinely believed that Lundqvist had already played his final game in the National Hockey League but it would now appear that a return may still be on the table.
On Sunday Lundqvist provided an update on his status and although the news was very good there was also a tinge of disappointment that tainted that good news. Lundqvist, through a message on his social media, revealed that he was indeed planning a comeback and that he had initially been hopeful that the comeback could be made this season. However it would appear that, although Lundqvist is clearly ready to get back into the swings, his heart will not be able to take on the rigors of playing in the NHL quite yet.
"Right after getting back on the ice after surgery, I made it my 'stretch goal' to join the 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," wrote Lundqvist on Sunday.
The language used here does indicate to me that Lundqvist himself intends to come back to play in the NHL, assuming of course that his heart recovers to the point that he can do so, although it is impossible to know when that might be given how little we know about the condition of his heart at this time. The good news is that he is back out on the ice and skating, so hopefully his comeback will happen sooner rather than later.