Henrik Lundqvist admits he dealt with plenty of uncertainty and went through “some pretty heavy stuff” when he learned he needed to undergo open-heart surgery in January.
Nearly three months later, the former Rangers All-Star goaltender said in his first public interview since the season-ending procedure that he left everything in the hands of his medical team.
“I remember laying there, outside the operating room, and you start to think, is this really happening? Like, am I going in that room and they’re going to open my chest? And a machine is going to keep me alive?” the 39-year-old Lundqvist told NHL Network in an interview with former Rangers teammate Kevin Weekes. “It was some pretty heavy stuff to take in, but at the same time, you know me, I like control. I like preparation. I like certain things to be a certain way.
“So in that moment I think the key was to just let go of all the control.”
The five-time All-Star had the final year of his contract bought out by the Rangers in September, and he signed a one-year contract as a free agent with the Washington Capitals.
Lundqvist revealed in December that a heart condition would prevent him from playing this season, and he announced the need for surgery a few days later.
“I get the call from one of the specialists that was part of the process. And he’s like ‘I’m sorry you’re tests came back worse than we thought.’ In that moment I knew there was no talking, like ‘Should I, should I not?’” Lundqvist said. “So the next step there is just to get on the phone with the surgeon. ‘OK, what’s the next step here, what are we doing?’
“And two weeks later, I’m on a bed in Cleveland and I’m going in for open-heart surgery. Everything happened so fast. I didn’t have much time to think about it. But I was very calm. And I think being an athlete and being used to focusing on things, I think that really helped me.”
Lundqvist finished his 15-year career with the Rangers with a record of 459-310-96, with a 2.43 a goals-against average and 64 shutouts. He is the Blueshirts’ all-time leader in wins, games played and shutouts in both the regular season and in postseason play.