J.T. Brown #23 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates into goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers during the second period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Amalie Arena on May 26, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.
Scott Audette | NHLI | Getty Images
Longtime New York Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist is being officially elevated into “hockey legend” status on Friday night.
The winningest goaltender in franchise history will have his No. 30 jersey retired at an on-ice ceremony at Madison Square Garden before Friday’s game versus the Minnesota Wild. He will be only the 11th player in the team’s long history to receive the honor.
“It’s going to be amazing to share this moment with all the fans, and obviously my closest friends and family, they’re all flying in from Sweden,” Lundqvist said in a CNBC interview.
The Swedish-born hockey star played 15 seasons for the Blueshirts, ranks sixth on the NHL’s all-time wins list for goalies and holds more than 50 team records.
Following his illustrious career with the Rangers, Lundqvist signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Washington Capitals, but a heart condition prevented him from ever playing for the Caps. He announced his retirement in August following open-heart surgery to repair a leaky valve.
“In the end, it was not meant to be. The heart said no,” Lundqvist told CNBC. “To have heart surgery was a crazy experience. It really was not something I expected that I would have to experience in my life.”
Today, Lundqvist is grappling with the end of his on-ice career and what comes next, and so far in addition to his broadcast duties as an MSG studio analyst, he’s teamed up with Caesars to help launch sports betting in New York.
Lundqvist said he is eager to delve further into the fan experience, an area where he earned a reputation as a player who for years was focused on fans at the Garden.
Sports betting, Lundqvist said, holds promise to boost the fan base for hockey. “I think it will attract more people watching the game, and it will be more exciting for people who have not necessarily watched the game before,” he said.
Lundqvist added he feels at peace and full of gratitude about his pro hockey career — and eager for whatever comes next.
“You go through different stages when things happen, but when you reach that gratitude stage, you’re just thankful for so many things that made me very happy, even before everything started happening with the heart,” he said.
See CNBC’s full interview with Henrik Lundqvist below.