Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals after being released by the New York Rangers, but a heart condition will prevent him from playing this season. Kathy Willens/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist will sit out the upcoming NHL season because of a heart condition, he said Thursday, about two months after he joined the Washington Capitals following 15 years with the New York Rangers.

Calling it “a pretty tough and emotional day” in a video posted on social media by the Capitals, Lundqvist said he has been taking various tests on his heart “for several weeks.”

“And after lots of discussions with doctors around the country, and finally receiving the last results earlier this week, I unfortunately won’t be able to join the team this year,” Lundqvist said.

“It’s still very hard for me to process all of this,” Lundqvist said. “And kind of shocking, to be honest.”

The 38-year-old from Sweden was bought out by the Rangers and signed a $1.5 million, one-year deal with Washington in October to try to earn his first Stanley Cup – and try to help Alex Ovechkin win a second.

“The Washington Capitals are supportive of Henrik’s decision to step away from hockey at this time due to his heart condition. Our players’ health is of the utmost importance, and we stand behind Henrik’s decision,” the club said in a statement. “We want to wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”

The plan had been for the longtime face of the Rangers to share goaltending duties for Washington with 23-year-old Ilya Samsonov. Washington added Lundqvist to take the spot of 2016 Vezina Trophy and 2018 Stanley Cup winner Braden Holtby, who left to sign an $8.6 million, two-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Lundqvist has appeared in 887 NHL regular-season games, plus another 130 in the playoffs, and he came close to a championship in 2014, leading the Rangers to the Stanley Cup final. He lost postseason series to the Capitals in 2009 and 2011, then eliminated them in 2012, 2013 and 2015.

But he hadn’t participated in the playoffs since 2017 until two games in the qualifying round of the expanded, 24-team playoffs this past summer.

“The risk of playing without remedying my condition is too high,” Lundqvist wrote Thursday on Twitter, ”so I will spend the coming months figuring out the best course of action.”

BLACKHAWKS: The Chicago Blackhawks are going to remain the Blackhawks, and there is no sign of a change coming anytime soon.

Speaking publicly for the first time since baseball’s Cleveland Indians announced Monday they plan to change their name, Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz reiterated the same message the team shared this summer after lingering questions about Native American team names returned to the forefront.

“Obviously respect the decision the Cleveland Indians made to go down that path, but we continue to deepen our commitment to upholding our namesake and our brand,” Wirtz said Thursday.

In July, after Washington’s NFL team announced it was reviewing its name, the Blackhawks said they planned to continue with their name because it honors Black Hawk, a Native American leader from Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation.

The Blackhawks also said this summer they are committed “to raising the bar even higher” when it comes to expanding awareness of Black Hawk and all Native American people – and Wirtz, the son of Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, made it sound as if that effort had only reinforced what the franchise felt about its name. The team announced later in July that they were banning headdresses at home games as part of their pledge to honor the Native American community.

ALL-CANADIAN DIVISION? Ontario’s minister of sport says the provincial government is examining how a Canadian division in the NHL might work.

Lisa MacLeod says discussions about the league’s return-to-play plan are being studied by Ontario public health authorities, the province’s chief medical officer of health and officials from Toronto and Ottawa. She says she expects to join those conversations in the next few days, as will federal counterpart Steven Guilbeault.

There has been talk of a possible realignment for the upcoming season. One option could feature a seven-team all-Canadian division with no cross-border travel.

The league has targeted mid-January as a potential start date. However, the Ontario Hospital Association on Thursday asked the Ontario government for a strict four-week lockdown in regions with high rates of COVID-19 positivity that would include Toronto and Ottawa.

Also, the mayors of Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario, said Wednesday they want a strict four-week lockdown to begin over the winter holidays to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the Toronto area.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday the province’s public health measures shouldn’t impact a resumption of activities for the Montreal Canadiens. Quebec is struggling to contain a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday the league and the players’ union are working on a framework for the season, including the possibility of using hub cities.

Speaking during a video panel discussion at the World Hockey Forum in Moscow, Bettman said: “Right now, we’re focused on whether or not we’re going to play in our buildings and do some limited travelling or play in a bubble, and that’s something we’re working on and getting medical advice on.

PANTHERS: All-Star winger Anthony Duclair has agreed to join Florida on a one-year contract, the team announced.

Duclair, 25, had a career-high 23 goals and 17 assists for Ottawa last season. Florida becomes his sixth NHL team.

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