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 goalie Henrik Lundqvist is being officially elevated into ‘legend’ status. The winningest goaltender in the franchise’s history will have his number 30 officially retired at a ceremony at Madison Square Garden ahead of Friday’s game versus the Minnesota Wild. He will be only the 11th New York Ranger to receive the honor.
“It’s gonna 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 tells CNBC.
The Swedish born hockey star played 15 seasons for the Blueshirts, he ranks 6th on the NHL’s all-time wins list 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 heart condition prevented him for ever playing for the Caps. In August, the goaltender announced his retirement, following open-heart surgery to repair a leaky valve.
“In the end, it was not meant to be. The heart said no,” said Lundqvist. “To have heart surgery was a crazy experience. It really was not something I expected that I would have to experience in my life,” he added.
Today, he’s grappling with the end of his on-ice career and what comes next. Lundqvist is branching out, across many industries.
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 is eager to tackle the fan experience, an area where he says he has expertise after so many years focused on fans at the Garden.
Lundqvist says he hopes sports betting will boost the fan base for hockey. “I think it will attract more people watching the game and it will be more exciting for people that have not necessarily watched the game before,” he said.
The five-time All-Star says today he feels at peace and full of gratitude for the hockey career he had – 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.”
See CNBC’s full interview with Henrik Lundqvist below.