Henrik Lundqvist participated in a comprehensive interview with Johan Rylander of Göteborgs Posten in which he touched on a number of subjects including his post career plans.
Lundqvist conducted the interview while driving from Manhattan to New Jersey where a temporary training rink has been set up. He’s been working with a couple of skaters to get into shape for the upcoming season. Lundqvist is still living in Tribeca, and although he’s visited Washington, he hasn’t found a home there yet. He described Washington as a city that’s easy to get around, and one that should have less bumper-to-bumper traffic than New York City.
Lundqvist called joining the Washington Capitals as being a “new chapter in the final stages” of his career, and it being a decision in which he evaluated the opportunity to play, the coach of the team (Peter Laviolette) and the composition of the roster.
It wasn’t about money for Lundqvist, who said that his desire to play and compete is still a huge motivating factor.
“I have put a lot of time and energy into analyzing where I am somewhere, how I feel about the sport, what I appreciate about the sport. And feel that it’s still fun. Fun to compete. I still think it’s fun to get up to the rink every day to train and to get better. I know it’s in me too. The last six months of the pre-season was a very tough situation that affected me and my game. If I can get a good situation where I am mentally in the right place and know the conditions in a good way, I think I can play at a high level. That’s what I’m working on right now. It feels like a great challenge too.”
And while he’s a member of the Capitals for 2020-21, he will be making a return to the Rangers when his career is over. Lundqvist said “I’ll be a part of the Rangers for the rest of my life one way or another. Both I and the Rangers have been clear about that. That’s how it will be.”
When asked if that meant he’d have a job with the team when he retires, Lundqvist said, “Yes, it will be the role they want it to be.” Lundqvist elaborated saying he doesn’t know if it will be a small role or something greater, and that it ultimately comes down to timing. It isn’t something here or now, but something further ahead in the future, and he will be “connected” to the Rangers forever.
The former Rangers’ netminder further described the upcoming season, and mentioned that one thing he was looking forward to is working with and competing with Ilya Samsonov. He called him a young and promising goalie, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to sit back.
Lundqvist said he will take whatever job he gets, but he’s going to compete hard because he wants to play. He said that he will focus on what he can control, and it is up to the Capitals to decide what his role is. There’s nothing he can demand, and it is all about coming to camp, playing well, and making the most of the opportunity that’s presented to him.
This upcoming season could have a compressed schedule in which teams play a number of games in a short time, so Lundqvist admitted that there’s bound to be a balance and gone are the days of him playing 70 games a year like he did early on in his career with the Rangers.
Joining the Capitals means that Lundqvist will no longer have to face Alex Ovechkin in a game, and that’s something he’s OK with considering the Russian sniper’s career performance vs. the King. He also joked about Ovechkin having one of the toughest shots in the league, and how he’s not going to stand in net to take shots against him. Other “new” teammates include Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin, and both are close friends that he’s glad to be reunited with.
He signed with Washington quickly after free agency opened, and Lundqvist joined the Capitals to win a Stanley Cup.
“It’s to win. But it’s at least as much about the trip, that you enjoy on the way there. There is a lot to feel fun about with the trip, with the group, with the matches. Sure, you have an end goal that drives you, but there is much else on the way there that drives you as well. And there Washington felt very attractive.”
And Lundqvist believes Washington can do it.
“I believe in us. I believe in the team, I believe in the new coach Peter Laviolette. They have won, but are still hungry and want to do it again. They have the routine. It is incredibly difficult to predict before a season. But it feels good.”
Before joining the Capitals, Lundqvist was also considering returning to Frolunda to play with his brother Joel. He said that it was one of the situations among all the things in the big picture he was considering. He still hasn’t closed the door on ever returning to Frolunda, and described the situation, yet again, as it being about timing. He reiterated that you never know what opportunities can open up, and until he hangs up his skates for good, it will be a possibility. It just didn’t work out this time.
Overall, Hank is happy and excited for the upcoming season. It is a brand new challenge for him, and he enters the season with an opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup. He gets to continue his career playing meaningful games, and he left the organization on good terms with an agreement in place to return in some capacity once his playing career is over.
This is something many of us likely suspected, but to have him say it certainly has to be reassuring for fans. It is also interesting that he was considering rejoining Frolunda, and ultimately I could see him spending the final season of his professional career there, whenever that is.
It will be interesting to see whatever his post-career role will be with the team. There are certainly options for him, and it would truly be something if he were to rejoin the organization once it is back in the contention window. If he doesn’t win a Cup with Washington, I think fans would settle for him going for it with the Rangers off the ice. But like Hank said, that’s down the road for now, so we will all have to wait and see what happens between then and now.