Capitals

MacLellan calls Lundqvist's risk level 'not acceptable' to play

Capitals

The news that Henrik Lundqvist will not play in the 2021 season caught everyone by surprise. While Lundqvist's heart condition was not public knowledge, it is something that he has dealt with his entire career. This year, however, the risks became too great for him to play.

While that is understandable, it is also fair to wonder if the Capitals were aware of this and, if they were, why the team chose to sign him?

"[Lundqvist has] had a heart issue all along that he's managed and it's been fine," general manager Brian MacLellan said Wednesday. "We anticipated it would be the same as what it's been for most of his career, all of his career. A routine physical that was an early physical turned into, well we need to explore further what's going on with you."

The condition is the same condition Lundqvist has dealt with throughout his career and was not unknown. But, according to MacLellan, Washington's medical staff pushed for further evaluations.

"Our doctors, the cardiologists, the specialists, it kept getting deeper and deeper," MacLellan said. "As we went that far, Henrik got a lot more knowledge of what his situation is and where it's going and what his risk levels are."

MacLellan added, "We started further exploring where he's at physically and his risk level is not acceptable for him to continue to play, for him and his family."

MacLellan did not go into details on whether anything changed regarding Lundqvist's condition or his risk levels, just that when presented with the options, Lundqvist made the decision not to play.

 

"It's unfortunate," MacLellan said. "I think it was emotional for him and his family. I think we're grateful, everybody's grateful that he went down that road, that our medical staffs, that our trainer pushed him down that road and explored it more. I think the result is good that he's very aware of where his health is at. Everybody's a little disappointed that we couldn't see what we could've done with him in the lineup."

When it comes to Lundqvist's contract, MacLellan said there are a "couple options" for what the team can do, but he wanted to give Lundqvist time before reaching out and coming to a decision. At the very least, the team could place him on long-term injured reserve which would essentially free up his $1.5 million cap hit.

The fact that Lundqvist's cap hit won't remain on the books will certainly help the team which is tight against the cap and we saw MacLellan take advantage of that on Tuesday with the signing of forward Conor Sheary.

Still, that is making the best out of a bad situation as both Lundqvist and the Caps would prefer the veteran netminder was still able to suit up for them this season.

"Obviously, we were all excited to add him to our team and he was excited to come," MacLellan said. "It looked like a perfect fit for both sides and everybody within the organization, his family, everybody was excited to see how it was going to play out."