Henrik Lundqvist is a man in transition. “The King” has been very busy over the last month, tending to matters necessary to facilitate his transition from Rangers blue to Capitals red.
He and his family visited Washington in mid-October. The trip included a search for a Washington home and visits with fellow Swedes, Nicklas Backstrom and former teammate Carl Hagelin.
Lundqvist has already begun workouts for the 2020-21 season, and on Saturday, he gave fans a sneak peek of the design of his new Capitals goaltender pads. It’s been a busy month for Lundqvist.
In an exclusive interview with SportExpressen, Lundqvist spoke about the family’s plans for the move to Washington, how his daughters reacted to their father changing teams and about the decision process that ultimately led him to Washington.
Lundqvist revealed that the transition process spanned a wide range of emotions, beginning with tears and disappoint the day he was ultimately bought-out by the New York Rangers on September 30.
“It’s been extremely emotional. It was tears, absolutely, for both me and the family.”
But Lundqvist has had time to process the way things ended in New York and has come to a peaceful, happy place. He has no harsh feelings towards New York or the Rangers.
“I think this part of my career, this new chapter – it has nothing to do with the Rangers. This is just about myself and what I wanted to do in a new situation.
“I had a long relationship with the Rangers. But it was time for me to take the next step. When I think back on my 15 years in New York, I just feel joy and gratitude. I feel a good feeling. I think back on everything I have experienced and everyone who has supported me.
“I will always appreciate my years in New York. The Rangers will always be a part of me, for the rest of my life. I feel very proud of it. But I do not remain in what has been. Now it’s history.”
Lundqvist, 38, admitted he considered retirement following the Rangers buyout, but in the end, he felt he wasn’t done playing. He wasn’t ready to quit just yet.
“Yes, all the cards were on the table (for retirement). It really was a process to go through. That was not easy. It started with the fact that I had to get used to the idea that it would be something completely new. I went through a lot of different thoughts. But in the end I came to the conclusion that I still think it’s so much fun to play. I was not ready to quit.”
Lundqvist says there were many conversations at home in Manhattan with his wife and children. He really wanted to involve the whole family.
“We wanted to do something that felt good for the whole family. This is going to be a challenge and an adventure for all of us.”
Once Lundqvist realized he wasn’t done playing, the next step was finding the next team of to play for.
“We had four or five good alternatives. We went through carefully what would fit best. What did the team look like? Where did I have a good chance to play a lot? Where was the best chance of winning? Washington was really the best option. An exciting team with many good players and a good coach.”
Lundqvist admitted location was also an important factor in the selection process.
“It’s close to New York. Our children will stay in school in New York, the family will stay there. But we will have a home in Washington as well. Now we do not know what the season will look like, so we have to take it a bit on the spur of the moment.”
Lundqvist and his family made their first visit to the district on October 18. He posted photos and a video of the family visiting MedStar Capitals Iceplex and exploring DC and Georgetown.
“We had a great weekend there and visited, among other things, the home of the Hagelin family and the Bäckström family. We looked at accommodations. We thought it was exciting and an adventure – the whole family.”
Lundqvist, who is currently in New York City with his wife, Therese, and his two daughters, Charlise, eight years old and Julie, four years old, has been working out daily across the river in New Jersey.
On October 30, Lundqvist posted a video of himself practicing in a Capitals practice sweater (and Rangers pants) for the first time, while working out in New Jersey.
“It is clear that the desire to win is a big driving force, but then I still think it is so fun to play. Now I drive on my own with some coaches at a rink in New Jersey. I’ve been doing that for a month. I feel well prepared.”
Lundqvist also reiterated the number one goal that remains in his hockey playing career.
“I have had so many thoughts all autumn. I thought a lot about what I want to do in the future, even after hockey. But hockey remained what I want to do now. I am open to much else after my career and I have contacts in New York and a lot that interests me. But right now, my focus is on doing my best for the Washington Capitals.
“Then the Stanley Cup is the goal. But just as much the journey there. I am very much looking forward to playing again.”
By Jon Sorensen