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Henrik Lundqvist doesnt deserve this imperfect ending – New York Post

Late in the playoffs of those annual deep Rangers runs through most of the past decade was when game stars and marquee athletes would speak to the media from a dais rather than from in front of their respective lockers.

So it would take maybe 10 minutes to hear from, say, Derick Brassard, Ryan McDonagh or Martin St. Louis after a match or practice. But it would be 15 minutes, maybe 20 minutes, maybe even 25 minutes before Henrik Lundqvist mounted the podium.

Or as President Kennedy once said of his wife, Jacqueline, as The First Lady kept an audience waiting for her entrance, “It takes a little longer for Jackie to get ready, but it’s worth it.”

Lundqvist’s hair, of course, well, it would be perfectly coiffed. His attire, of course, well, it would be perfect for the occasion. The national media that congregated in New York those springs would all but collectively gasp. I think one or more of the national columnists indeed referred to Lundqvist’s life as “perfect.”

The national guys probably weren’t so far off. Lundqvist was an all-time NHL goaltender with a persona to match, the Rangers’ biggest star since Gretzky played Broadway. He was more than cordial to inquiring minds. He was respectful of everyone with whom he crossed paths.

He was a page of GQ sprung to life. But that probably trivializes his profound impact on New York. Not only did he win more games than any goaltender in franchise history, but also he and his wife, Therese, became part of the fabric of the community. The couple’s charitable work on behalf of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation is renowned, They had two young daughters.

Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist
Getty Images

Yes, Henrik Lundqvist and his family were picture-perfect.

But as we were reminded on Thursday, a picture-perfect individual and family are not guaranteed perfect health. Because we learned from Lundqvist himself through social media that he will not be able to play this season because of a recently discovered heart condition that will require treatment. He won’t be pulling on the Capitals sweater in search of the Stanley Cup that eluded him for 15 seasons in New York.

Our understanding is that Lundqvist’s condition is not life-threatening. It is also our understanding that this is not related to COVID-19. But he won’t be able to play this year. Chances are, because he will turn 39 in March, this will mark the end of his career.

This is one time that, “Once a Ranger, always a Ranger,” rings about as hollow as it gets.

I know how eagerly Lundqvist was anticipating the season, how energized he was about joining forces with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Carl Hagelin and the crew in D.C. The appreciation he had for his tenure in New York was palpable, too. This was going to be The King’s Chapter Two. This was going to be perfect.

As if we needed it in 2020, we received another jolt and another reminder of our mortality, how precious our time is and our obligation to maximize life while we have the opportunity. And we receive this reminder not from a death, but from the medical condition of an all-time professional athlete whose career is, just like that, likely over.

Lundqvist’s commitment and focus are legendary. The Swede’s attention will now turn from the rink to his health, and to his heart that always has belonged to New York. This may not represent the perfect ending that he envisioned and others wished for on his behalf, but then, this is not a perfect world.

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