The news out of Washington, DC shocked NHL fans earlier this month: long-time elite NHL goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was set to start for the Capitals this season after a lengthy career with the New York Rangers, would miss the season with a heart condition.
Now, the news has escalated.
Lundqvist shared a note on Twitter on Monday morning, revealing that the 38-year old goaltender, who has 887 career regular season NHL games played to date, will undergo open-heart surgery to do extensive repairs on his aortic valve:
It’s tough news to swallow for NHL fans no matter what team they cheer for; although not everyone roots for the New York Rangers, everyone roots for The King. Lundqvist remains one of the NHL’s most successful goaltenders all-time to never win a Stanley Cup — and with Monday’s news, it’s looking increasingly likely that the only way he’ll win one now will be either behind the bench or in the front office.
In some news for the team that had signed him, though, there’s a new veteran goaltender in town.
The Washington Capitals had signed Lundqvist to a one-year deal in the offseason, bringing New York’s finest on board to help steer the ship for new starter Ilya Samsonov. With Lundqvist understandably focused on his health this year, the Capitals were left scrambling — but they found another veteran willing to come on board and give it a shot, signing former Ottawa Senators starter Craig Anderson to a pro tryout deal ahead of camp:
#Caps sign goaltender Craig Anderson to a professional tryout agreement. Anderson, 39, registered an 11-17-2 record with a 3.25 GAA and a .902 save percentage in 34 games with Ottawa last season.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) December 27, 2020
Anderson is even older than Lundqvist; he’ll turn 40 before this season is over, and his numbers were starting to trend in that direction last year. A third round draft re-entry selection of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2001 — and originally a third round selection by the Calgary Flames in 1999 — Anderson has logged 648 career NHL games between Chicago, the Florida Panthers, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Senators. He spent 435 of those games with Ottawa, where he helped his team on their impressive 2017 playoff run before starting to slip with the rest of the team en route to their current rebuild. He’s clearly no longer an NHL starter, but he’s been one of the most calming off-ice presences in Ottawa over the last decade — and could provide that same kind of stability for Washington in the absence of Lundqvist this season.
Learn more about Craig Anderson’s style, and what he might be able to bring to Washington as a veteran with a sharp mind and an absolutely incredible work ethic. [InGoal Mag]
In other PTO news, the Arizona Coyotes brought someone on board on Monday night:
Another PTO: Jordan Schmaltz w/ARIZ. He’s been skating there— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 29, 2020
Schmaltz isn’t quite as high-profile of a PTO signing as Mike Hoffman, but he does bring a familiar name for new Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong in a role that could either serve to push the current defensive roster at training camp or to beef up the team’s taxi squad. And he’ll be reunited with both some former Chicago-area teammates as a former Mission skater, the same Illinois travel hockey program that produced Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer — and Schmaltz’s own younger brother, Nick, who is already on the Coyotes roster.
In prospect news, everyone give a nice round of applause to Team Germany — who squeaked out a win at the World Juniors tournament on Monday night despite still having just 14 skaters to ice during their games:
Germany had been one of the fastest-rising nations in junior hockey, working their way up from the Division I tournament to the main stage in 2018 after being relegated in 2015. Then, nearly half their team tested positive for covid-19 just ahead of the World Juniors this December, forcing the nation to ice one of the most lopsided rosters seen in modern tournament history.
I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Germany at the WJC. Happy to see them pick up a win at the tournament (with 14 skaters!!) https://t.co/aC8kYWStHP— Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas) December 29, 2020
It’s just one win, but it’s a huge one for a nation that hasn’t had a lot to feel happy about with their tournament so far. In 2020, that’s all we can really ask for.
Finally, we know that the start of the NHL season may be bittersweet for a lot of fans this year for a number of reasons. Some people have lost loved ones to covid-19 who they normally spent their evenings watching hockey games with. Others have lost jobs to the covid-19 pandemic due to season cancellations and delays, and still more have seen their own athletic passions — as pros, coaches, collegiate athletes, and more — put on hold while watching the stars get preferential treatment to safely hold their own contests.
With that in mind, here’s a pretty poignant story looking at a group of high schools across the United States who all share the same name — Roosevelt High School — and the same Rough Riders mascot, and how drastically different each of their athletic seasons have been thanks to regional restrictions:
"Why are they playing and we're not?"— Brady McCollough (@BradyMcCollough) December 28, 2020
For heartbroken HS football players, there were no easy answers. I started with L.A. Roosevelt and found 13 schools that shared the Rough Rider name but little else this fall. Story @latimes on the American spectrum: https://t.co/OK5hFMoxMZ
And remember: please stay safe, please stay kind, and we’ll see you all when the games begin.